Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hanging Mary by Susan Higginbotham

The untold story of Lincoln's Assassination
1864, Washington City. One has to be careful with talk of secession, of Confederate whispers falling on Northern ears. Better to speak only when in the company of the trustworthy. Like Mrs. Surratt.
A widow who runs a small boardinghouse on H Street, Mary Surratt isn't half as committed to the cause as her son, Johnny. If he's not delivering messages or escorting veiled spies, he's invited home men like John Wilkes Booth, the actor who is even more charming in person than he is on the stage.
But when President Lincoln is killed, the question of what Mary knew becomes more important than anything else. Was she a cold-blooded accomplice? Just how far would she go to help her son?
Based on the true case of Mary Surratt, Hanging Mary reveals the untold story of those on the other side of the assassin's gun.


Author Susan Higginbotham has written an very real, in-your-face, interpretation of the events leading to President Abraham Lincoln's assassination told through the point of view of Mary Surratt and the conspirators. From start to finish, she captured the historical era brilliantly. We see how easy it was to walk to the White House to stroll its lawns and pathways to wait for the president to appear with a speech. She describes how the aftermath of the Civil War affected Americans, both in the north and south, while capturing societal norms and rules. 

To say this novel stirs up the reader's emotions would be an understatement. I could not help but feel empathy for Mary whose son was conspiring to kidnap Abraham Lincoln. He brought his co-conspirators into her home, and without telling her much, preyed on her good nature and kindness to do them some favors which turned out to cause her great harm, and which ultimately saw her hung. In the aftermath of the assassination, her cowardly son fled to Canada, and while his mother faced execution, he did not return to aid her in her defense. His word could have saved her. But he didn't do anything on her behalf. When he finally was caught, he was acquitted and did not suffer the same fate as his mother. 

Of all Susan Higginbotham's books, this is by far her best. Unlike some of her other novels where there are sometimes too many characters to fully keep the story straight, this story is the opposite. There are slightly more than a handful of characters, and she brings them to life with great clarity and immense understanding. I loved this book and learning about Mary Surratt's dreadful story which continues to haunt me. It is one of the best books I've read this year and I rate it with a very strong 5 stars! 

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog,, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit

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