A burnt-out writer is trying desperately to get what's in his mind onto paper for his upcoming book. Investigating the Garfield assassination will no doubt lead your mind to some dark places, but when Richard starts having conversations with men who are long dead he knows he needs to make steps in the right direction before he loses his mind completely.
Thank you to Midas PR for reaching out and sending me a review copy of The Garfield Conspiracy which releases tomorrow (7th September)! With my new found enjoyment of historical fiction I wanted to get a read in for the 1800s and the switching timeframe for this novel gave me a great introduction to the period.
Initially I was indifferent to Richard, he seemed interesting enough but gave off the typical "I'm all that" male writer vibe. The cliché of a young female coming into his life, heavily invested in his work didn't do anything to dissolve that portrayal. When this aspect of the novel was addressed in the narrative, it did little to save face and but the self-awareness flicked a switch in my brain that kept me invested in the story rather than Richard's male ego. If these characters can be portrayed in this way the author must be aware of how the reader will react and, to me, that's extremely clever writing and they definitely have more to give.
I do not come from a history background, so the details of the Garfield assassination are not something I am familiar with, but Dwyer actually made me feel as though I knew all that was needed to know. I didn't feel excluded or less smart for not knowing the intricacies, key facts were presented expertly and intertwined with the narrative. Historical fiction that really gets under my skin is where ever other page is a history lesson in itself, but The Garfield Conspiracy put me in the same situation as Richard, history is there in the room with me, not being shoved down my throat.
Suspicions flew all over the place in this novel and let me tell you something, I'm here for it. A recent read of mine has suspicions flying everywhere as well but with each suspicion there was nothing concrete to back it up and it was often a back and forth "he said, she said" with no development. What I found with Dwyer's book was that each encounter with Richard's visions actually progressed what the reader suspected themselves, and gave us different viewpoints to actions that at once might have been suspicious but now become mundane. I really enjoyed Dwyer's approach to his storytelling, whilst slow-paced there was always something to be thinking about with Richard, his family or visions.
You definitely don't have to have an interest in history and/or politics to appreciate what Dwyer has achieved with this novel. Getting to the bottom of a mystery is something we're all keen to delve into, just because it is a Presidential assassination doesn't mean you have to exclude it from your range of interest, it certainly didn't get excluded from mine!