Friday 7 July 2017

Benjamin Franklin and The Quaker Murders by John Harmon McElroy

Benjamin Franklin and The Quaker Murders

Everyone in Philadelphia thinks Jacob Maul, the Quaker stonecutter, is a murderer. How could there be any doubt? In September of 1785, two women were found dead on his property—one of them in his bed—with bruise marks on their throats. The only person who comes to a different conclusion is the city’s most famous citizen, Benjamin Franklin.
But at seventy-nine years of age, Franklin doesn’t want to acquire a reputation for solving his neighbors’ problems. Instead, he recruits a younger man, Revolutionary War veteran James Jamison, to make inquiries under his direction and collect information that could prove the Quaker’s innocence. Franklin’s considerable intelligence guides Jamison, but as the investigation unfolds, details emerge that threaten to dismantle the great man’s assumptions.
The Quaker Murders contains rich details about both Benjamin Franklin and life in eighteenth-century Philadelphia, a large, bustling city that was still recovering from the rigors of the war for independence.  (Summary via Goodreads)

If you are a fan of The Quaker Midwife series by Edith Maxwell or A Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery series and/or The Gilded Newport Mysteries series both by Alyssa Maxwell, I highly recommend Benjamin Franklin and the Quaker Murders by John Harmon McElroy.  And don't think that because Benjamin Franklin is involved it is going to be a boring, historical book.  It is far from that.  I will admit to taking notes while reading it .... only because I wanted to be certain that when I sat down to write my review I was giving McElroy the credit he is so deserving of.

Jacob Maul a Quaker stonecutter has seen too much death...right in his own home.  His first wife dies from injuries after being hit by a wagon, his second wife found strangled next to him in bed, and then the sister of his second wife found strangled and discarded on his property.  After Mrs. Coons (Lizzie), Jacob's second wife's sister is found, he is arrested for the murder.

Captain James Jamison, who happened to be saved by Maul's oldest son, John, during the battle at Monmouth, is summoned secretly by Benjamin Franklin to discuss looking into the deaths.  Franklin does not believe that Maul is guilty and once he presents his reasoning to Jamison, Jamison finds himself agreeing.  

After this initial meeting, plans are set in motion.  Jamison will look into the deaths but mainly focusing on Lizzie's death as her sister's death was 7 years earlier.  Franklin and Jamison set up an arrangment so that no one will know that Franklin is behind the investigation.  It will be best if he is left out of it all together.

Jamison puts out word around town that he is looking into the murder and asks anyone for information to come forward.  He also sets out to visit Lizzie's family members and anyone that knew her so that he can learn more about her.  While on a trip out of town, a riot occurs in the jail resulting in Jacob Maul's
death.   This does not stop the investigation as it is important to the rest of the Maul family that Jacob be found innocent, if that is the case.

As you travel along with Jamison you will not believe some of the things that are uncovered regarding Lizzie and the secrets involved in her life.  You will also find amusement in the relationship between Jamison and Franklin.  And when they obtain a confession for Lizzie's death, you will be completely shocked.  And when you close the book for the last time, I believe you will be in awe of McElroy in the way in which he wrote a very entertaining and captivating story....and yes you can brag that you read a book on Bejamin Franklin.

Review by Missi S.

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