With a title uniting two highly popular topics—Abraham Lincoln and ghoulish crime—this is sure to pique the interest of many readers, and Sheinkin's gripping narrative will hold them to the thrilling climax. In 1876, a group of Chicago counterfeiters hatched a half-baked plan to remove President Lincoln's corpse from its resting place near Springfield, Illinois, and hold it for ransom. Although there was minimum security at the grave site and little to prevent the thieves from carrying out their dastardly scheme, the fledgling Secret Service was onto them (more for their counterfeit operations than their grave-robbing conspiracy), and their plans were foiled in the nick of time. While describing this small episode, Sheinkin weaves in information about the formation of the Secret Service, the history of counterfeit operations, presidential campaigns and elections, and much more. Excellent pacing within an appealing format. Photo elements were not available for review. Grades 5-8. --Randall Enos
Steve Sheinkin is the recipient of the YASLA award for Excellence in Nonfiction. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.
This meticulous and tremendously suspenseful account of the attempted heist of Abraham Lincoln's body in 1876 reads like a smartly cast fictional crime thriller, with a skillful buildup of tension and sharp character portrayals. Sheinkin (Bomb) lays the groundwork for the plot by delving into the history of counterfeiting, a booming business during and after the Civil War ("By 1864, an astounding 50 percent of the paper money in circulation was fake"). James Kennally, leader of one of the largest counterfeiting rings in the Midwest, masterminded the plot to steal the late president's body from the Lincoln Monument, outside Springfield, Ill. His intent was to ransom the purloined corpse, hitting up the government for a tidy sum of money and the freedom of his jailed, top-notch engraver. Perhaps the most dynamic player is Lewis Swegles, a shrewd career criminal who juggled double roles as Secret Service informer and alleged conspirator. Sheinkin's study of Swegles's thought process and machinations intensifies the drama of the final showdown between the would-be robbers and government officials. A sizzling tale of real-life historical intrigue. - "Publishers Weekly "starred review