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The Ninth Daughter: An Abigail Adams Mystery [Paperback]

Barbara Hamilton
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime; Original edition (29 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425230775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425230770
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,692,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Ninth Daughter In the Massachusetts Colony, political upheaval turns murderous, in this new series featuring First Lady--and sleuth--Abigail Adams. Full description

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tangled web 12 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the political turmoil of Boston in 1773, one woman is found murdered and another has vanished without trace. A wise, wry female protagonist, Abigail Adams, must follow the threads - personal, political and religious - that will lead to the identity of the murderer.

Lots of interesting background detail about political and everyday household life in the period, and a well-plotted mystery. It is perhaps a little slow to start, but builds up to a gripping finish.
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By Mark Baker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Fall is turning into winter in 1773 Boston. Tension is in the air thanks to the new tax on tea and the patriots who are now refusing to pay it or drink it.

In the midst of this tension, Abigail Adams goes to see her friend Rebecca Malvern and discovers a dead woman on the floor of Mrs. Malvern's house. The woman is a stranger. Who could she be? Why was she killed here? And where has Mrs. Malvern gone? When Abigail's husband John becomes the chief suspect, Abigail begins to hunt not only for her friend but the killer to clear her husband's name.

I love historical mysteries and the American Revolution, so as soon as I heard about this series, I knew I'd enjoy reading it. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to the promise. While the main characters were interesting and felt real, I had a hard time getting into the book. The writing, while trying to capture the feel of the time, was actually a bit of a deterrent to me.

And the plot wasn't as strong as I was expecting either. I didn't feel it was overly complicated. In fact, I found it annoyingly simple, and I kept reading hoping to be proved wrong. While I didn't see the motive coming, I felt like I should have.

Having said that, the ending was tense, and I was pulled into it. That's why I'm giving it 3 stars instead of 2.

And, despite the look, I agree with the others that this is not a cozy. There are some pretty intense descriptions of violence over the course of the book.

I don't think I will give this series another chance, which is very disappointing. And it leaves me wondering if I want to try the series she writes as Barbara Hambly, which has been on my to be read list for years.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a Cup of Tea 25 Feb 2010
By Jim Duggins, Ph.D. - Published on Amazon.com
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Barbara Hamilton has written a wonderful book to kick off her new mystery series. "The Ninth Daughter," set in Massachusetts in the 1770's, is a book about a serial killer loose in Boston and its environs, a case where a smart and somewhat progressive woman is the sleuth. That woman is Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, who will be the second president of the United States. With Abigail as protagonist, the novel introduces a handful of other illustrious Colonial Americans: Tories and Whigs, Colonials and Royals, Calvinists and Catholics, etc.

The strength of this novel, in my opinion, is its historical accuracy and the delightful unfolding of the plot and its back stories. The story begins on the eve of the revolution and key players are representatives from the Crown and the "Sons of Liberty" (John Adams, Paul Revere, et al.). We are treated to visits to a small village a day away from Boston inhabited by Christian fundamentalists and see the protestant hatred for "papists". The Abigail Adams of this book relates well to a great variety of people sometimes using her gender as a buffer against hostility. Her friendship with a Redcoat Lieutenant and his Sergeant allow her a source, sometimes entre, to clues in solving the murders. Those characters sometimes are a backdrop when her husband (a prominent member of the Sons of Liberty) is in the room. Author Hamilton weaves these personalities and their points of view together in a living drama with great finesse and the real "feelings" of a nation in turmoil. We are aware that the preparation for the famous Boston Tea Party is a constant background throughout the book.

It is, however, how the book "works" as a novel that is the proof of the pudding in historical fiction. I admire the way in which author Hamilton crafted this book, i.e., sentence structure and the historical authenticity of language. Ms. Hamilton uses language to great advantage in that way. This is a book in which you'll frequently look away from the page and think, "what a great way to say that": e.g.,"with an Irish brogue that could have been cut like cheese with a wire;" "yet outside of Boston, the veneer of England vanished like an early frost," and "Wind as sharp as broken oyster shells." There are just a few of the many many examples of figurative language that keeps the prose so fresh and imaginative.

The denouement, the ending solutions, are so hidden and surprising, you'll be amazed at that twist, too. "The Ninth Daughter" by Barbara Hamilton is a great new book and I look forward to the next in the series. If you like American Colonial Historical Fiction, this is one that should be next on your reading list.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bridge to the past 4 Nov 2009
By Julia B. Frank, MD - Published on Amazon.com
I have had a longstanding passion for John and Abigail Adams and the colonial period in general. This wonderful mystery has everything--details of the times, a great sense of the complexity and ambiguity of the politics of revolution, a well constructed mystery, and resonance between the present and the past. Abigail is an indominable feminist, but within the context of her times. The characters are as real to me as John Adams was after reading McCullough's biography. This was a great read!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a Blooper! 11 Mar 2012
By Holly Adiele - Published on Amazon.com
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I just recently discovered Barbara Hamilton's mystery series featuring Abigail Adams, have read two of the first three books, and am enjoying them very much. Skimming the many reader reviews of the first title (The Ninth Daughter), I agreed with much of what was said -- both positive and negative. Yes, the plot is a bit over-complicated, the cast of characters is quite large, the characters often think in modern ways, etc. But her re-creations of 1770's Boston, pre-Revolutionary politics, Adams family life, and Abigail's character are colorful and engaging.
However, just as I was really enjoying the book, I began to notice what seems to me to be a huge historical blooper! (No, it's not important to the plot, and yes, I am a retired junior high history teacher, but come on, Hamilton, you obviously did a lot of historical research! How could you get this so wrong?)
The author falls into a common pattern of softening John Adams's rather thorny character (after all, he's Abigail's beloved) and exaggerating the equally thorny character of his cousin Sam Adams. Okay, I can live with that -- but I can't swallow Hamilton's making Sam Adams a slave owner -- and an owner who uses his slave Surry as his concubine to boot! [See pages 162 and 173 of the paperback edition.]
Quoting from the latest, extensively researched biography of Sam Adams (Samuel Adams, by John K. Alexander, a professor at the University of Cincinnati, 2011, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) -- "One of his relatives recounted how Samuel responded in the mid-1760s when his wife received a young black female slave as a present. He said that no slave could live in his house; if Surry came, she must be free.... Surry entered the Adams home as a free woman, and, as another Adams relative testified, she lived as a servant in the Adams family for decades."
I really appreciate the Hamilton's inclusion of gender, class, and race in her narrative, but I think when an author uses historical characters in her novel, she has an obligation not to misrepresent them. Sam Adams might have been a radical revolutionary, but he was not a slave owner!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cozies make me uncomfortable 15 Mar 2010
By James M. Rawley - Published on Amazon.com
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This book is written by a seasoned pro, Barbara Hambly, under a new name, so I don't feel guilty about complaining a little.

It's an excellent cosy with a fine sense of historical place. You can see -- and smell -- pre-Revolutionary Boston from the very first sentence.

At the same time, it's a twentieth-century serial killer novel dumped into the eighteenth century. Though there are no blatant anachronisms, the characters speak of what "the killer" would do, discuss (in other language) how serial murderers can't quit, and freak out about cults of religious fanatics in a modern urban agnostic -- not an eighteenth century deistic -- way.


On at least two occasions the plot is forced to the point of near-explosion. Early on Abigail Adams is caught burglarizing the home of a self-righteous Tory, with the help of his own house slave. Because she has turned up some letters that show the owner trusted his daughter too much, he spares both Adams and the slave, and indeed changes his entire character just because the plot needs him to do that. Later on, Abigail Adams wanders through a dreadful wilderness in a way no woman of her class, feminist or not, could have managed. The author barely mentions what clothes Adams is wearing; if the clothes had been focused on, Abigail Adams's trudge through dark, wet woods in them would have appeared even more absurd than it does.

Meanwhile, with the Boston Tea Party coming up and every main American character in the book under suspicion of capital sedition, Adams and a conveniently plot-forced British lieutenant investigage a murder as if they were partners on CSI or LAW AND ORDER. There is no way in heck the murder investigation (which the author is right in saying would be the official concern of the military or no one) would not have been put on the back burner while the lieutenant decided if his "partner" -- Abigail Adams -- should be served tea or sent directly to jail.

The author ducks or works around all these problems intelligently, and it's pleasant to feel old Boston and see the cosy crime get solved. But the plot-carpentry is always obvious, and every time the reader sees it, the plot gets boring. That's the problem with most cosies, if not with all of them, so I can't complain too much, and I still think the book is worth three stars. I liked it better when I thought it was a professional historian's first try at a mystery novel. As a seasoned genre novelist's work, it's a tiny touch cynical.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the Ninth Daughter by Barbara Hamilton 2 Dec 2009
By L. Taber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Barbara Hamilton sets her first in a series of historical mysteries, The Ninth Daughter, right in the middle of an emerging new nation in revolutionary Boston. All the historical figures are placed in this setting including Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Adams and of course Abigail Adams. The Sons of Liberty, a secret group fighting against the taxation of the British and for their freedom play a prominent role in this enjoyable mystery. Abigail Adams on her way to visit a friend, Rebecca, who is associated with helping the Sons of Liberty group, discovers Rebecca missing and the body of a dead woman. The woman is later identified as Perdita Pentyre, the mistress of a British Colonel. What was she doing at Rebecca's place of residence? What happened to the list of the members of the Sons of Liberty and their aliases? When Abigail's husband, John, is accused of the murder Abigail must use her acute observation powers and do everything possible to find the murderer and her friend Rebecca. Barbara Hamilton's first in this series of historical mysteries will leave you looking forward to the next book, especially if you are an aficionado of the Revolutionary Period in our history and Abigail Adams.
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