Perish from the Earth
These Honored Dead
Joshua Speed, the enterprising second son of a wealthy plantation owner, has struck off on his own, opening a general store in Springfield, Illinois. But before long, he makes a surprising and crucial new acquaintance—a freshly minted lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln.
When an orphaned girl from a neighboring town is found murdered and suspicion falls on her aunt, Rebecca Harriman, Speed makes it his mission to clear her good name. A widowed storekeeper who took in her niece and nephew, Rebecca is also Speed’s former paramour. He knows she could never be a murderer but needs the legal expertise of his unusual new friend to prove it.
Together, Lincoln and Speed fight to bring justice to their small town, aided by the arrival of Speed’s sister Martha, a headstrong young woman who is determined not to be confined by the prevailing notions of proper conduct for a well-born girl. In the process, they are forced to confront their very different views toward slavery and equal rights—a disagreement that threatens to destroy their friendship. But as more bodies are discovered and the investigation starts to come apart at the seams, there’s one question on everyone’s lips: does Lincoln have what it takes to crack his first murder case?
Critical Praise for These Honored Dead
"These Honored Dead feels so completely authentic that it might very well be a recovered journal from the nineteenth century, peopled with true-life investigators named Lincoln and Speed. But the pacing is so assured and the mystery is so intriguing that it can't be anything but a masterfully crafted modern novel. Jonathan Putnam has crafted the most gripping debut in years."
-- Alex Grecian, national bestselling author of the Scotland Yard Murder Squad series
"This book is a time machine, and the mystery at its core is equally elegant and brutal. Just like our history. But, man, is it fun to root for Abraham Lincoln."
-- Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The President's Shadow
Starred review, Publisher's Weekly
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The Lincoln and Speed Mystery Series
On a Spring day in 1837, two young men encountered each other on the American frontier. While coming from very different backgrounds and holding very different views on the issues of the day, the two men were to become roommates, confidantes, and lifelong friends. Their friendship changed each of them and, in some respects, changed the course of American history.
Joshua Fry Speed grew up on a large plantation in Louisville, Kentucky, the second son of a wealthy landowner and judge who raised hemp through the forced labor of some sixty African-American slaves. After a prosperous upbringing and several years of college Speed struck off for the frontier, hoping to make his own fortune. He soon ended up running a general store in Springfield, Illinois.
On April 15, 1837, an awkward young man named Abraham Lincoln ducked into Speed's store, seeking bedding for his new residence. Lincoln was in many ways Speed's polar opposite: he had grown up in a simple log cabin; he came from a broken family (his mother had died when he was young); and he was self-taught. He had bounced around quite a bit trying to find an occupation that fit his unique temperament and talents: he'd already been a flatboatman, surveyor, postman, and store clerk. The very day that he met Speed, Lincoln had formally begun his latest profession, as he had been sworn in as a newly minted trial lawyer.
Rather than selling Lincoln bedding Speed invited him to share his room above Speed's general store. The rest is, literally, history. Lincoln and Speed were roommates for three years, and the two men remained lifelong friends. Speed ended up with a front-row seat as Lincoln became a famous trial lawyer and politician, the President who saved the Union, and perhaps the seminal figure in U.S. history.
The Lincoln and Speed Mystery Series uses this slice of American history and lore as the basis for a series of historical mystery stories and courtroom thrillers. Inspired by the actual cases handled by Lincoln during his long and varied legal career, the series reimagines Lincoln and Speed as a sort of Holmes and Watson, with young Lincoln playing the role of the great man, seeking justice in the courtroom, while Speed plays the role of his right-hand man, occasional sparring partner, and the chronicler of their shared adventures.