National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin is an obsessive story detective who travels the country in search of amazing true tales. How fitting then, for today on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, that we should talk about his latest book, “Lincoln’s Grave Robbers.”
On October 20, 1875, Secret Service agents raid the Illinois workshop of master counterfeiter Benjamin Boyd and arrest him. Soon after Boyd is hauled after to prison, members of his counterfeiting ring gather and devise a plan to get Boyd back: steal Lincoln’s body from its tomb, stash it in a secret location, and demand, as a ransom, the release of Boyd – and $200,000 in cash.
The action in this true crime thriller alternates among the conspirators who commit the crime, the Secret Service agents who are hot on their trail, and the undercover double agent who is moving back and forth between the two groups.
Readers are compelled to keep reading this gripping tale, while getting a glimpse into the inner workings of counterfeiting, grave robbing, detective work, and the early days of the Secret Service. The plot itself moves toward a hair-raising climax as the robbers and law enforcers converge at Lincoln’s tomb on election night in 1876.
Peppered throughout this book are sketches, black-and-white photographs, and floor plans of the Lincoln Monument, bringing the story and its characters to life. The cast of characters listed at the start of the book helps readers to sort the who’s who of this real life thriller. The glossary of phrases at the back of the book will make all readers hip to the lingo of the time. For example, maybe a ‘bone orchard’ sounds obvious for graveyard, but did you know that a ‘shover’ is a criminal who passes counterfeit money in stores and banks? Or that a ‘coney’ is counterfeit currency?
With the help Sheinkin and his story of “Lincoln’s Grave Robbers,” you’ll be a bona fide history expert on Lincoln, his grave robbers, and the lingo of the period in no time.