Lora Shouse's Reviews > Across the River

Across the River by Richard Snodgrass
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it was amazing

A well-told story of the Civil War era. The tone is a bit ominous throughout, and it feels as if everything is seen through just the slightest haze of gauze, or mist – or smoke?

The story is riveting – will the Confederate operatives be able to complete their mission without being discovered or killed or both? Are they even safe from each other?

The main protagonists are members of the guerilla group known as Morgan’s Raiders. There are a Captain Judson Walker and a Jonathan Reid who fancies himself an engineer and may almost be a civilian. They are in Pennsylvania on a secret mission and are pretending to be Yankee soldiers, which they seem to be pulling off fairly well as they are from Kentucky, a border state which sent soldiers to both sides.

The time is smack in the middle of the war. While Walker and Reid are in the town, the battle of Gettysburg is being fought.

They have come to see a man named Colin Lyle, owner of a local Steamworks and the inventor of a contraption he calls a ‘road engine’ which appears to be sort of like a small steam locomotive that can be driven on regular roads instead of requiring railroad tracks. Reid’s idea is to take some of these road engines, armor them, and mount Gatling guns on them. He is convinced it will change the entire course of the war.

Captain Walker is extremely cautious and suspicious. Possibly overly cautious and suspicious. Or maybe not.
While Reid is busy with Lyle at the Steamworks checking out the engines and having his modifications made, Walker is busy puzzling over the strange behavior of Lyle’s wife, Libby who, it turns out, is herself a transplanted Southerner. It seems that they have stumbled into the middle of a complicated relationship between Libby, her husband, and the local doctor. Walker repeatedly warns himself that the situation is dangerous, but he nevertheless becomes romantically involved with Libby. Possibly because he somehow associates her in his mind with the girl he used to love, who is now married to Morgan.

Libby, however, is more ephemeral than the smoke that fills the town, and just when Walker thinks he knows her, he doesn’t.

Several times it looks as if they will be found out and stopped, and then they get out of it. But, while parts of the final ending might be predicted, other aspects of it are a complete surprise.

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Reading Progress

May 10, 2019 – Started Reading
May 10, 2019 – Shelved
May 18, 2019 –
May 23, 2019 –
May 25, 2019 –
May 28, 2019 – Finished Reading

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