When it comes to remembering presidents during the national holiday President’s Day in February, that sentiment may strongly resonate when reading the two new historical fiction adult mystery series. Set little more than 40 years apart, the books step into the presidential eras of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The presidents don’t get involved in actual sleuthing but are closely linked to the amateur detectives in these books.
The Alice Roosevelt Mystery Series: The real-life daughter of President Roosevelt is stepping into the detective role as she fears for her father’s safety in this fictional novel, Alice and the Assassin. During 1902, the bright and bold 17-year-old Alice Roosevelt is under the guardianship of Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, a one-time cowboy and veteran of Rough Riders. Assessing his new assignment, St. Clair considers it a ‘cushy job’ compared to serving as a soldier, but the president warns him about the first daughter: “You say that now. But I promise you, you’ll wish you were back in Cuba before the year is out.”
The novel is told from the perspective of St. Clair as he discovers working with young Roosevelt entails extra measures of bodyguard work. When former President William McKinley is assassinated, the suspicious daughter is driven to find answers about the killer, a public anarchist whom Alice believes others exist to follow his lead. Agent St. Clair follows her while tracking down possibilities through multiple New York City locales, including the occasional event requiring the secret service agent to draw his Colt handgun. The book is written by R.J. Koreto and next book in the series is The Body in the Ballroom.
The Lincoln White House Mystery Series: In 1861, Adam Speed Quinn is a presidential assistant and jack-of-all-trades for the newly-elected President Lincoln's White House staff. The former 30-year-old frontier scout comes from the Bloody Kansas conflict, the border war of Kansas between slavery and anti-slavery forces where he was wounded and then reassigned. Working directly for Lincoln, Quinn is identified as one of the president’s closest confidants. In Murder in the Lincoln White House, a man is found murdered during the inauguration ball and Lincoln asks Quinn to investigate: “I prefer someone less known to the public to carry out this investigation. And I also require someone in whom I have complete and utter trust, whose loyalty and discretion are without question. You are one of the most intelligent and resourceful men I’ve come to know—who is not immersed in politics or the law.”
With Lincoln’s pronouncement, Quinn begins the case and his skills are to put to test as he interacts with an unfamiliar Washington community. He finds unlikely assistance in two new allies: a strong-willed journalist named Sophie Gates and the methodical Dr. Hilton, a free man of color. They help Quinn piece together the investigation. Also, when needed, Quinn keeps a Colt handgun close by for protection, much like secret service agent St. Clair in the Alice Roosevelt Mystery Series. The book is written by Colleen Gleason, and is the second in the series is Murder in the Oval Library.