A Necessary End - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Booth felt like going behind the saloon and blowing his brains out, so maybe getting it off his chest would help.
“The day after the election, I decided it was time to begin planning this capture plot we’d discussed in Montreal. So I went to Nettie Colburn Maynard, the Lincolns’ spiritualist, to get information on his whereabouts. Not for any other reason,” he emphasized sternly. “But during the very first visit, strange things started happening to me. She went into trance and conjured up what she believes is a spirit who’s been haunting me ever since, haunting me in the hotel room, backstage at the theater, everywhere. I’ve had this recurring dream where I’m in ancient times, Rome or some old place like that, everybody dressed in tunics, and they’re waiting for me so we can murder somebody. And in real life, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, feeling someone behind me. It’s all very unnerving. Some days, I can barely get through.” He paused for a sip.
Sam hunched forward, anticipating every word.
Booth went on, "I began to think there was something to all the mumbo-jumbo. It even started to bother Alice. She feels cold drafts in the room and sees things moving about like I do. It’s not just me going loony. And now I’m convinced someone from the spirit world is after me to do this deed to Lincoln, and won’t leave me alone until I do."
This is John Wilkes Booth’s conversation with his childhood friend Samuel Arnold. Arnold, David E. Herold, Mary Surratt and a few other handpicked friends and acquaintances were all responsible for several failed attempts to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln. Most of their attempts were foiled by actress Alice Grey. Gray was solicited by Senator John Parker Hale to help protect the president by acting as a spy against Booth. What neither of them expected was for her to fall in love with Booth and even more unexpectedly was for Booth to fall in love with Gray. His love for her was so great that he asked her to marry him.
With all attempts to kidnap Lincoln failing, the surrender of Lee and the ending of the war, Gray knew Booth would give up his attempts allowing them to lead a normal life. But as history proves, that was simply not to be.
I’ve always had a fondness for certain eras of history, the 1800s being one. Reading the John Wilkes Booth story was like stepping back into time for me. A lot of what I read, I know from reading the history books to be declared as being true. I had read that Booth was an actor, that he was at one time engaged to Lucy Hale, the daughter of Senator Hale. Reading history books told me that Mrs. Lincoln was heavy into mediums and spiritualists in hopes of contacting her two deceased sons. And I may have even read somewhere that Booth kept a diary. So, the writing of A Necessary End was a pleasure in reading for me. I’ve always said that if the history novels written by John Jakes were to be made into history books, kids would enjoy history and learn more. I feel the same way about A Necessary End’s author Diana Rubino. She has made reading the history of this event enjoyable.
Now I leave you with one question. Did John Wilkes Booth really die in that burning Garrett tobacco barn or did he escape to live a ripe old age?
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Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Moongypsy Press
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