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Burt Solomon Books In Order

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Publication Order of The John Hay Mysteries Books

The Murder of Willie Lincoln (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Murder of Andrew Johnson (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Burt Solomon is a historical mystery author and journalist. Solomon has been a contributing editor at “The Atlantic” and the “National Journal.” At the National Journal, he was in charge of covering aspects of Washington life and the White House and for his work, he was granted a Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency Gerald R. Ford Prize. He first made his name with the nonfiction work “Where They Ain’t” a novel that chronicles the history of Baseball from the 1890s. He also wrote two non-fiction works set in 1900s Washington. His first fiction work was “The Murder of Willie Lincoln” that he published in 2017. He currently lives with his wife and children in Beltway.

Solomon’s work often involves a lot of research which often results in moments when it all comes alive in her head. For “The Murder of Willie Lincoln,” the magical moment was when he was researching Lincoln’s summer house named Old Soldiers’ Home in Washington. Burt had several scenes of the novel set in the house and one day while climbing the stairs he asked the guide about the railing. The guide confirmed that it was the original and it hit him that Lincoln’s molecules must still be on that banister as he had slid his hands on it going up and down those stairs. That was the magical moment that the story and Lincoln came alive in his mind. He tries as much as possible to keep the events, characters and weather of his settings exactly as they were since it is after all historical fiction. The city of Washington did look the same with the White House and The Capitol looking exactly as they do today. Still, the city sounded and smelled different than what it does today and hence he had to do a lot of research to make it come alive. Burt had to read books about Washington, magazine articles and newspapers to get the perfect smells and sounds. He also spent days reading about embalming in the National Library of Medicine history section. He then worked things he found via research into his plot such as the poison that could mimic typhoid symptoms and the White House gardener that blackmailed Mary Lincoln.

Burt Solomon also does a lot of research on his characters on which not much is known. However, given that very little is known of the lesser characters such as John Watt the White House gardener, he applies artistic license in some instances. As for the better-known characters, he tried to stick to what was known and then work to find out more about them. He then uses that to understand how they think and then figure out how they would act or speak. Speaking in an interview Burt asserted that the most intimidating and hardest characters were Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln since they have complex voices. In the course of researching, he read a ton of books and also walked and spent some time in the spaces they occupied and tried to imagine their mannerisms, speech and attitudes. For the character of Lincoln, it was particularly difficult given that he has seeped into almost everyone’s consciousness. It is almost as if all Americans carry Lincoln in their head and know his voice and what he should be and hence it was critical to ensure he did not break that mold.

Burt Solomon’s historical fiction debut “The Murder of Willie Lincoln” is a compelling story set in 1862 Washington DC. The United States is in the midst of war and there seems to be no end to it. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States and there is no one more determined to ensure the nation remains one. But Lincoln’s soul and will are tested when Willie Lincoln his shining light and beloved son goes down with typhoid fever and eventually dies. But is he really dead of the deadly disease or something else? Lincoln is one of the skeptics with regard to the verdict of his son’s death and asks a trusted aide named John Hay to conduct more investigations. For some in the White House, Hay is a cynical, adventurous, skeptical, incisive, reflective and lusty man. Nonetheless, his love for the president is true and so he is one of the best men to find the truth of the death of his son. The story follows Hay as he investigates the suspicious death, showing the lowest and the loftiest corners of Washington DC. From the Willard Hotel’s gentleman’s dining room, to the president’s office, the subbasement of the domeless Capitol full of vermin, to the wartime hospitals and the hovels in the alleys. We interact with Lincoln struck down with grief, get to know his wife from hell, and their surviving sons who are also grieving for their brother. Other luminaries from the period such as William Seward, General McClellan and Allan Pinkerton the resolute detective also play critical roles in the story. Hay soon learns that what he is investigating could not only destroy the president but the United States as they knew it.

“The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt” by Burt Solomon is a novel set in 1902, where Theodore Roosevelt has assumed the presidency after the murder of William McKinley his predecessor. But then an electric streetcar rams into the horse-drawn carriage in which Roosevelt was riding and kills a Secret Service agent. The president is convinced that the accident was an assassination attempt and asks John Hay the Secretary of State. It is a bizarre choice given that he would perhaps have the motive to kill the president given the provisions of the constitution state he is second in line after the VP to succeed the president. Hay had led an investigation when he served under Lincoln but he has mixed feelings when it comes to the case at hand. At first glance, he does not think there is anything suspicious in the incident but then some discrepancies begin to appear. For instance, the streetcar had stopped for nearly twenty minutes at the top of the hill above the crash site. Moreover, the lawyer appointed to defend the employees of the streetcar company is murdered when he is planning to go to Washington to speak to the investigating team. Could it have been a labor rabble-rouser or an anarchist that had gotten control of the streetcar? John Hay just like in the previous novel makes a great detective even as the author introduces a romantic dimension in Lizzie Cameron that he is strongly attracted to. He also introduces a detective named Nelly Bly who travels between Washington and Pittsfield to help Hay in his investigations.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Burt Solomon

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