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Chickahominy Fever: A Civil War Mystery [Hardcover]

Ann McMillan


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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I expected 11 Jan 2007
By Allen S. Kearns Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love Civil War Mysteries and this one did not dissappoint
5.0 out of 5 stars Civil War 13 July 2009
By Lyn Reese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It is June, 1862, and war has come to Richmond Virginia. Under siege by General McClellan's surrounding Union troops, the residents face shortages, deaths, and looming fears of destruction. Betrayals abound as well; not everyone wants the South to win.

Strong characters with diverse and often conflicting views drive McMillan's plot. There is the wealthy abolitionist who plans to use a revealing letter, stolen from the home of Jefferson Davis, to pressure President Lincoln into freeing the slaves. There are freed slaves, escaping slaves, a slightly crazed mother grieving for her son and husband killed in battle, an English journalist, a suspicious Confederate lieutenant on the lookout for spies, a genial young doctor, and the citizenry pressed into service to tend the broken bodies carried from the "hell erupting from the fields of Virginia."

The primary protagonists, however, are a nurse, Narcissa Powers, and free black, Judah Daniel, who join forces to search for a mysteriously missing Confederate soldier and the mother of an abandoned infant. Unfortunately these mysteries lack focus and suspense; too often the story line gets lost in the complicated plot and narrations of the multiple characters. It's better to read "Chickahominy Fever" for its insight into Civil War battles, the appalling lack of sanitation and rough surgical techniques employed in the hospitals, and the devastating effects of diseases, such as "Chickahominy Fever," or malaria. And, above all, for the effects of siege on the lives of Richmonders in this stressful, soul searching time.

This is Ann McMillan's fourth Civil War mystery featuring Narcissa Powers and Judah Daniel. Her "afterward" gives us information about the historical characters and sites used in the story, as well as her ambivalence as to who was traitor and who a hero.

Civil War buffs might also enjoy Ann Perry's book "Slaves of Obsession," featuring investigator William Monk and his wife Hester, a nurse who had worked alongside Florence Nightingale in the Crimea. Perry gives us views on the war from Britain and on its flourishing gun dealing trade. As well there is a great description of Washington D.C. as it mobilizes for war, and of the battle of Bull Run.
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book! 25 Jan 2009
By Cynthia K. Robertson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I enjoy reading history and I love a good mystery. So when I find a book that combines the two, it's a double bonus for me! I happened to pick up Chickahominy Fever: A Civil War Mystery by Ann McMillan without knowing anything about this book, and I was pleased to find that it is awesome!

Chickahominy Fever takes place in Richmond, Virginia in 1862. A letter detailing the weaknesses in Richmond's defenses is given to Confederate President, Jefferson Davis. It is then smuggled out of his house by a servant who was planted there by Louisa Ferncliff, a prominent Richmond abolitionist. But strange things are happening around Ferncliff's Mansion, and when a dead man and a small baby are discovered in the churchyard next door, Narcissa Powers suspects a connection. Powers is a nurse at Chimborazo Hospital, where she also must deal with a patient who disappears, stolen morphine, and her own case of malaria. How these threads all come together is true genius.

Ann McMillan weaves true facts into Chickahominy Fever, which show that she has done her research. At the beginning of the book, the relatively unknown Bobby Lee has just taken over for the Confederates, while George McClellan is still bumbling his way through the war. The city is still dealing with the effects of the battle of Seven Pines, and will face the Seven Days Battle. But what makes Chickahominy Fever truly a gem is McMillan's eloquent writing. From the first page, I knew that I was in for something special: "Jefferson Davis squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them. To his good eye, the black marks seemed to wriggle and jump. The man's stern, bony face was strong-willed, but his eyes were disobedient servants. At last he brought his hand up and held them shut." Also, the ending is just superb!

My only suggestion for interested readers would be to start this series at the beginning. McMillan's characters, Narcissa Powers, Judah Daniel, Brit Wallace, and Cameron Archer, appear in all of them and it will make it easier to figure out what is going on in Chickahominy Fever if you read Dead March first.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just can't recommend this. 5 Aug 2004
By L. J. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I found the plot of this fragmented and although loosely based on an actual incident, improbable. The red herrings, rather than being effective, made the protagonist seem naïve. The only thing that saved this book, for me, was the history, but that's not enough for me to recommend it as a mystery.
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