In her novel, Spy of Richmond, Jocelyn Green tells the story of Sophie Kent, the daughter of a southern slaveholder who dares to write abolitionist articles for the newspaper. When she is caught, she must redirect her efforts. Convinced that the war must end quickly, Sophie decides to become a Union spy in the heart of the Confederate capitol. With the help of her personal slave, Bella, and a handsome journalist, Harrison, Sophie plays the dangerous game of espionage in the waning days of the War Between the States where one mistake could cost her life. Will she survive and see the conflict to its end? Or will someone close to Sophie betray her and everything she holds dear?
To the author’s credit, the settings in Spy of Richmond are meticulously researched. The reader can feel the devastating consequences of war as they are experienced by the characters, from prison to plantation. In many ways the atmosphere of the war-torn South is an effective piece of the plot because of the emotional response it evokes, which increases the story’s historical credibility.
The novel is told mostly from Sophie Kent’s point of view. However, since there are many events occurring at the same time in different places, the story is told through many characters. Each voice is unique and adds variety and perspective without losing flow or cohesiveness. The personalities in Spy of Richmond are multifaceted and realistic. They reveal a depth in their words and actions which make them empathetic even when unlikeable. Each personality is strong which makes the conflict more profound. The dialogue, with distinct inflection, reflects the authenticity of each participant and reveals their motivations a little at a time, propelling the story forward without divulging too much information.
Spy of Richmond is a heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. The twists and turns of the plot are well-crafted and historically plausible. The action is balanced between internal motivations and external events. The romance angle is not overdone, and adds surprising suspense. As a result, there are no lulls and the plot continues to intensify, finishing with a satisfying ending.
The novel is geared toward Christian women, but anyone who likes historical fiction would enjoy it as well. Although there is some violence depicted in Spy of Richmond, it is done tactfully and true to the historical record. A strong Christian message is communicated throughout but avoids the preachy tone that befalls so many novels in this genre.
Spy of Richmond is book four in Jocelyn Green’s Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War Series. It is a stand-alone novel but the series should be read in sequence order as there are continuing story-lines which one might not understand otherwise.
In conclusion, Spy of Richmond is a masterfully told, spell-binding tale full of suspense, betrayal, courage, and love. It is set during one of the darkest times in American History and is rich in detail and description. Spy of Richmond may be the best book of the year in its genre.
I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.