It's February 1861 and Abraham Lincoln is making his way by train from Springfield, Ill., to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., on March 4.
Allan Pinkerton and his renowned team of detectives have uncovered a plot to assassinate Lincoln before he arrives for his inauguration. They try to convince Lincoln's advisers of the threat, but they refuse to believe the danger is real.
"The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War"By Daniel Stashower
Minotaur Books, 368 pages, $26.99
"The Hour of Peril" by Daniel Stashower tells the true story of Pinkerton and his team, who created a bold plan to not only uncover the conspirators, but also insure Lincoln's safety as he traveled through the northern United States on his way to Washington.
The narrative reads like the best political thriller. Pinkerton was a controversial public figure, and the historical record questions much of how he handled high-profile cases. He was willing to bend the law if it meant success.
The threat may or may not have existed, and the conspiracy is still historically disputed. But Lincoln's decision to listen to Pinkerton and arrive in Baltimore in the middle of the night may have saved his life.
Who knows how history would have changed without Lincoln at the nation's helm during the Civil War?
The story of a charismatic detective trying to convince Lincoln of an assassination plot and a man adapting to lead the country that was dividing proves to be a great addition for fans of great books of history.