New Release – The Thackery Journal by John Holt

Journal Front

Official release today!

To celebrate it I have asked John to come over to my blog and answer a few questions. After that I will give you an excerpt and tell you where you can get your very own copy.

Good morning John, a busy day, right? I’m glad you could find the time to do this today. Let’s not waste any of your precious time. Sit down and grab a coffee with a merengue.

What made you want to write this book?

The Thackery Journal” is something of a departure for me, and way outside my comfort zone. Although my first novel “The Kammersee Affair” was an adventure story loosely based on a few truthful facts, my normal genre has been crime, and there have been four novels featuring my private detective Tom Kendall and his assistant Mollie.

I have always been fascinated by the American Civil War. A Civil War is the worst kind of war that there could be. A war that divided the Country and split communities. A war that put brother against brother, and father against son. A war where in reality there were no winners and the effects would be felt long after the war ended.

I have been working on the book, on and off, for about four years. Strangely enough the first thing that I wrote was the final chapter. I tried to imagine how a hunted man felt as his pursuers came closer and closer. That chapter has virtually remained unchanged ever since.

You just made me very curious to the book. I think I might have to put it on my wish list for now. 

How did you go about researching it?

Much of the actual assassination details are well known – all I did was to take those facts, and fit in my characters as though they were part of it. The internet, of course, is full of information. The problem really was sifting through the vast amount of information. During the course of the research I came across a number of images that I thought appropriate to my story. I decided that I would like to include some within the book. Some people wanted large sums of money for me to use them. Whereas The Library of Congress site provided them free of charge.

Were you surprised at what you found during research?

Not surprised exactly. More like amazed. The way the South almost welcomed the war, how they considered that right was on their side, and that it would all be over very quickly. Then the reality of the conditions the soldiers had to contend with, the number of casualties both sides suffered.

Yes, war is always far more gruesome in reality than in the minds of people going into war it seems.

You might have noticed I am somewhat food obsessed lately, so I have to ask. Did you found they had any strange eating habits while researching the period?

Feeding soldiers during the Civil War was a very different process from the way contemporary soldiers are fed. Commissary departments gave soldiers uncooked rations of flour, salt, potatoes, cornmeal, beans, sugar, and dried or salted beef. These rations included very little vitamin C, which caused some soldiers to develop scurvy. This was a very dangerous disease that caused bleeding gums, discolored fingernails, and eventually death.

In order to supplement their basic rations, both Federal and Confederate soldiers were expected to forage for food early in the conflict. While in enemy territory, soldiers often simply stole foodstuffs from local farms. This practice left many civilians without supplies and sometimes caused widespread hunger. Soldiers often went hungry too, especially in the south where shortages were more common. Before the war, a typical southern family might spend around ten dollars a month on food. By 1864, the same amount of food cost four hundred dollars or more. One staple food was Hardtack – a simple type of cracker or biscuit, made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. Inexpensive and long-lasting.

And to keep to the food topic, what is your favourite dish?

As far as food goes I am a traditionalist I suppose, I’m also a meat eater. I don’t like Indian, not that struck on Chinese. I much prefer the traditional British meal. I suppose my favourite would be Roast Lamb, roast potatoes, vegetables, and Yorkshire puddings. Boring I know, but very tasty.

Nom! Now I must find a recipe for Roast Lamb. I think I can manage roast potatoes and veggies. Yorshire puddings are found at any supermarket in the freezer section (yes, I love a good Sunday Roast too)

Again John, I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to host you and your book. I wish you good luck with this one and can only hope you will come back when you have a new one for us.

Thank you Lucy, for this opportunity

Now, let’s take a look at the book.

The Thackery Journal” is a “What If” story concerning the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I have been working on the novel on and off for about four years.

On the night of April 14th 1865 President Abraham Lincoln attended a performance at The Ford Theatre, in Washington. A single shot fired by John Wilkes Booth hit the President in the back of the head. He slumped to the floor, and died a few hours later without recovering consciousness. Was Booth a lone assassin? Or was he part of a wider conspiracy? What if Booth had merely been a willing party to a plot to replace Lincoln with General Ulysees S. Grant.
Let us suppose that Booth had been set up by a group of men, a group of Lincoln’s own Army Generals; Generals who wanted Ulysees S. Grant for their President, and not Lincoln. And let us also suppose that the funding for the assassination came from gold stolen by the Confederate Army.

Although it is a work of fiction I have included a number of contemporary images that I considered to be appropriate, and, I believe, augment the story.

The book is currently available at Amazon US and UK and the paperback is available on