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Faded coat of blue by Owen Parry

Faded coat of blue (edition 1999)

by Owen Parry (Author)

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217753,683 (4.18)9
Title:Faded coat of blue
Authors:Owen Parry (Author)
Info:New York : Avon Books, c1999.
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:fiction -- English language (general)

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Faded Coat of Blue by Owen Parry



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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I just have tone to say about this book. Review forthcoming. ( )
  mreed61 | Aug 10, 2014 |
This book hit the bestseller list quite quickly, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great historical mystery, and those seem to be all the rage now. This first of two novels featuring Abel Jones, a captain of volunteers in the Union Army, is set during the early part of the Civil War. Jones has been asked by General McClellan to investigate the death of Anthony Fowler, a well-known abolitionist, son of a prominent Philadelphia family. Jones soon discovers that Fowler’s death-- he was found shot close to the Union lines, and the first assumption was he was killed by a sentry in error-- was murder. Fowler had not been killed where he was found, and he had been shot with a pistol. Abel Jones is a very interesting character. Born in Wales to a very poor family, he is sent to live with a reverend who beats him regularly, but he falls in love with the minister’s daughter, Mary MyFanwy. He takes assorted jobs, but when the two are seen innocently kissing, Mary is sent away and Abel is so distraught he joins the British army. He is sent to India where the natives are being put down with horrible violence, especially after the mutiny, and when Abel is ordered to use several prisoners for bayonet instruction he just can’t go on and refuses to fight any more. Sent back to England, he finds Mary and they emigrate to Pennsylvania where they hope rumors of his mutinous behavior won’t follow, and he assumes he won’t have to fight again.

Unfortunately, the Civil War erupts and, taking pity on a group of volunteers who clearly know absolutely nothing of military maneuvering, he winds up as a captain of volunteers. Parry’s description of Abel’s company at Bull Run is astonishing authentic. It reminded me of Stephen Crane’s [book:Red Badge of Courage] capturing the chaos of battle. His company manages to hold until a fleeing battery of union artillery overrun their line and Abel is trampled by panicked horses pulling a cannon. His leg is broken and does not heel properly, and that’s how he winds up doing administrative duty in Washington and is picked by McClellan for the investigation into Fowler’s murder. McClellan doesn’t realize the tenacious nature of Jones, who is soon poking about in business the general would perhaps leave covered up.

Jones goes undercover in the War Department and unearths a mountain of fraud, seemingly unrelated to Fowler’s murder, but inevitably pieces begin to fall into place and Jones is warned off. Parry has done his homework, and the book concludes with a bibliographical and historical essay --always very welcome in a novel that purports to recreate historical events. Parry explains just which episodes were changed chronologically. Obviously, the tête-à-tête with Lincoln at the end never occurred, and seems unlikely even in the context of the story. One does get a very strong sense of what it was like to live in Washington during the early Civil War: not nice. Immigrants were held in considerable disrepute and constantly brutalized. A large majority were inducted into the military, and many died before they mastered English. Prostitution, illness (particularly typhoid) and wartime corruption were endemic, and fortunes were made quickly at the expense of many. A good story and welcome leavening of the American myth. There is a sequel that, contrary to the note at the end of Faded Coat of Blue, is not titled The Vacant Chair. An editor must have preferred [book:Shadows of Glory]

Update: It’s my understanding that this series has been discontinued by the publisher.

( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Curiously, this book makes no mention of the once-popular song of the same name, even though it was that song which initially attracted me to this novel amidst the epidemic of other historical novels about the War Between the State. The schtick is that Abel Jones, a Welsh veteran of some of Queen Victoria's many fine wars, finds himself working for the Union. Amidst recurrent reminiscences of his previous adventures -- which, one soon suspects, is a not-so-sneaky way for the author to lay the groundwork for future books -- he unravels a Byzantine tangle of corruption and hypocrisy in Washington. Not a bad basis for a book, but sadly this author, despite his intense righteousness -- or perhaps because of it -- cannot maintain a coherent a narrative or give meaningful, differentiated characterizations. The background material is very good: the filth and uncertainty of life in those days is evoked almost painfully. But as for the story proper -- hey, by the time it was over, I still wasn't sure who had done what to whom or why. ( )
  HarryMacDonald | Nov 8, 2012 |
Started slowly but gained traction and finished with a flourish. Insightful look at the politics and politicians in the military and the governmental infrastructure that made fighting and winning the Civil War so difficult. Patriotism was for the common folk while their "betters" sought and manipulated how to profit from this horrendous conflict. ( )
1 vote jamespurcell | Mar 22, 2012 |
Excellent Civil War fiction.
  jshreve | Jan 3, 2009 |
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Civil War era murder mystery. Excellent detail.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380797399, Mass Market Paperback)

A recent immigrant to this land -- where American has taken up arms against American -- Abel Jones finds himself mysteriously chosen as confidential agent to General George McClellan, the "savior of the Union."No stranger to the cruel paradoxes of war, Jones is asked to investigate the death of Anthony Fowler, a young volunteer captain shot through the heart outside an encampment of raw recruits. Fowler was one of the North's "golden youth," envied and idolized, an impassioned abolitionist and sole sone of a powerful merchant dynasty. Instantly, his murder is blamed on the Confederates -- but whispers haunt the death of this fallen martyr, leading Abel Jones from the blood of the battlefield through the intrigues of Washington, D.C., and into a web of secrets and sinister relationships where evil and good intertwine...and where heroes fall prey to those who cherished them the most.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:42 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A recent immigrant to this land -- where American has taken up arms against American -- Abel Jones finds himself mysteriously chosen as confidential agent to General George McClellan, the "savior of the Union." No stranger to the cruel paradoxes of war, Jones is asked to investigate the death of Anthony Fowler, a young volunteer captain shot through the heart outside an encampment of raw recruits.… (more)

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