Friday, September 21, 2007

"Fire Bell in the Night" by Geoffry S. Edwards

I'm going to start this review out with one word, "WOW." The American Civil War was never a topic I cared to read about, but this book has changed all that.

Set against the backdrop of a nation headed toward civil war, Fire Bell in the Night is a page-turner. The story centers around trial and one young reporter's efforts to discover the truth. During his time in Charleston, S.C, New York reporter John Sharp is constantly being reminded he is an unwanted guest, from the moment he steps off the train throughout the rest of the book.

Filled with historic details of the time, Fire Bell in the Night explores the explosive tension between North and South, black and white, that gripped Charleston, in the summer of 1850. John Sharp is sent to Charleston to cover the trial of Darcy Calhoun. Darcy is accused of harboring a runaway slave. The attitude throughout the city is that he is already guilty and will hang for his crime. This seems a harsh punishment, but this is the chance for the South to send the North a message.

As the trial begins, John finds out that not everything is as it appears in the city of Charleston. A series of mysterious fires in white establishments brings the state militia, a curfew for the black population, and rising tension at the courthouse. To unravel the city's secrets, Sharp must enter Charleston's plantation society, where he is befriended by one of Charleston's three wealthiest citizensTyler Breckenridge, owner of the Willowby plantation. He also develops a bit of a love interest for Tyler's sister, Clio.

Geoffry S. Edwards' use of language immediately pulls the reader into the story, throughout the book the writing created an atmosphere so thick that I swear I could hear the background sounds and smell the atmosphere of the events. He also is able to convey all aspects of the different sides of what led to the Civil War, and at the same time creating some very poignant moments.

Be prepared to just sit back and enjoy a great book.

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