Lincoln and Speed: Springfield Detectives

These Honored Dead: A Lincoln and Speed Mystery, by Jonathan F. Putnam, (Crooked Lane Books), 304 pages, release date 9 August, 2016

These Honored Dead offers a compelling central premise: a young Abraham Lincoln, just arrived in Springfield, and Joshua Speed, a part owner of a local dry goods store, share a bed (as was common at that time) and find themselves working together to solve a mystery. The two men begin as ciphers to one another and their acquaintance develops gradually. Speed, the son of a plantation owner, comfortably accepts the institution of slavery; Lincoln is already opposed to it. When Speed’s younger sister arrives on the scene, determined to escape the life of a proper woman of her social class, she seems to understand Lincoln—and the mystery—more readily than does her brother.

These Honored Dead isn’t “high literature,” but its attempt at portraying a young Lincoln and placing him alongside a foil like Speed is certainly interesting. This is the sort of book that one hopes will have sequels. The developing Speed-Lincoln partnerships leaves ample ground for further development.

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