Cover image for Faded coat of blue
Faded coat of blue
Parry, Owen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Avon Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
338 pages ; 22 cm
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Veteran of Queen Victoria's wars & recent immigrant to America, Abel Jones believed he had left his days in uniform behind. Now, firmly rooted on the shores of his adopted land-where American has taken up arms against American in this most terrible of conflicts-he has signed on as a confidential agent to General George McClellan, the man touted as the savior of the Union. Within hours Jones finds himself in a dark & unexpected world, where questions lead not to answers, but to other deaths Set against the backdrop of battles & bordellos, of the intrigues of war-time Washington & the elegant mansions of old Philadelphia, FADED COAT OF BLUE reaches behind the myths & heroics to paint a ravishing, disturbing & deeply moving portrait of the United States in the midst of our harshest trial. A determinedly moral man in a troubled age, Abel Jones triggers a drama involving greedy immigrants & impassioned patriots, vicious politicians & the greatest president the country has ever known. His investigation draws him into a web of sinister relationships that reveals a hidden side to Fowler's life & a shocking secret the youth may have died for. As a nation begins its long march into war-& as President Lincoln agonizes over the coming carnage-Abel Jones discovers that good & evil are easily intertwined, while heroes may be betrayed by those who cherished them the most. Vividly told, rich in history & compelling authentic detail, FADED COAT OF BLUE is a riveting tale of crime & punishment set amid the blood & tumult of the American Civil War; a startlingly original work of fiction that introduces Abel Jones, a most unusual crime-solver, a true American hero, & a keen observer of a world on fire.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In a winning blend of history and mystery, Parry brings to life Civil War Washington, D.C., and environs through the eyes of an exceptional Union soldier. Welsh immigrant Captain Abel Jones, who is keeping accounts in the War Department in Washington in late 1861, seems a mild-mannered man who'll follow orders. General McClellan personally enlists him to investigate the highly publicized murder of Anthony Fowler, a shining star of an officer and an ardent abolitionist. But Jones is more seasoned than he seems, having learned the horror of war in bloody hand-to-hand combat in India before being crippled at Bull Run. Suspicion for the murder rests first with the rebels, then with an industrialist making handsome profits from the war; but answers are to be found closer to home, and Jones turns out to be more tenacious and incorruptible than his seniors might have imagined. Parry shows corruption and hypocrisy on one hand and love of country on the other in this vivid glimpse of our past (which is also the first in a promised series). --Michele Leber

Publisher's Weekly Review

A colorful, scrupulous and unassuming sleuth named Abel Jones is the protagonist of this solid historical thriller set during the opening months of the Civil War. When a crusading abolitionist is found murdered in 1861 in a Union encampment near Washington, Jones, a convalescing casualty of First Manassas, presently assigned to desk duty, is tapped by the Union's newest general, George B. McClellan, to discover the killer and bring him to justice. Although Jones is the most modest of menÄa teetotaling Welsh immigrant, a Methodist and stout moralistÄhe's a veteran of some of the bloodiest battles of the century, as a former solider in Britain's Indian army. Modeled on the best qualities of such famous detectives as Hercule Poirot and Sherlock HolmesÄwith a little Miss Marple thrown inÄJones is small of stature and hampered by an injured leg, but he is a courageous man and seeker of truth. Decrying injustice everywhere, from child prostitution to military atrocities, the humble do-gooder proves a daunting foil for an assortment of villains, including McClellan himself. The first-person narrative is infused with ingeniously authentic and varied period patois, artfully drawn cameos and historical portraits. Whenever Jones issues a narrow assessment of people according to their national or racial background, he does so in accordance with typical period attitudesÄno revisionist political correctness here.. Sometimes unwittingly funny, Jones's narrative voice is a feast of fine language and well-rendered dialectical precision. This splendid novel whets the appetite for the promised next volume and the continuing adventures of the modest hero. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved