The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts&entertainment -


IN­SIDE A BAR­REL in the bot­tom of a boat, with a can­teen of wa­ter wedged be­tween his legs and a packet of poi­son con­cealed in his pocket, Ja­cob Rap­pa­port felt a knot tight­en­ing in his stom­ach — not be­cause he was about to do some­thing danger­ous, but be­cause he was about to do some­thing wrong.” It is a ter­rific first line, and as it pro­gresses, Dara Horn’s new novel gets more grip­ping — both as a straight­for­ward thriller and as a novel of ideas.

Her pro­tag­o­nist, Rap­pa­port, is a 19-year-old who runs away from his New York home to fight in the Amer­i­can Civil War be­cause he re­grets agree­ing to a match, foisted upon him by his par­ents, with a “men­tally de­fi­cient” girl. His com­man­ders soon dis­cover that he is well-con­nected and send him across en­emy lines to New Orleans, to mur­der his un­cle, who is him­self plan­ning to as­sas­si­nate Abra­ham Lin­coln.

In­ca­pable, again, of say­ing no, he

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