Land Of Wolves: The Return Of Lincoln’s Bodyguard, by T.J. Turner
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Edelweiss/Ingram Publisher Services. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
[Caption courtesy of Anthony Fantano’s review of Desiigner’s “New English” album.]
This book is not good. It is at least in the bottom five books I have read about Abraham Lincoln of all time, and that is including the awful revisionist history that claimed to write about the “real Lincoln” and the terrible tie-in to the excellent 2012 Lincoln biopic. In fact, this book has a lot to do with that terrible book on “the real Lincoln” , in that it is a deliberately revisionist book that paints Lincoln in a bad light while pretending to be sympathetic to him. It is the worst sort of hatchet job, in that the novelist is not good enough at making an exciting plot to be a writer of the west on the level of, say, a Louis L’Amour, but at the same time is not good enough at dealing with Progressive politics and revisionist history to have made something as compelling as The Ox-Bow Incident. This is a book that tries to be both a page turning but fairly brainless action thriller and a high-concept revisionist history and fails on both counts.
The plot of this more than 300 page novel is somewhat confusing. The book is set in an alternate time zone where Abraham Lincoln survived the assassination attempt in Ford’s Theater, only he resigned some years later and was found to have had a mulatto daughter by a black mistress. Meanwhile, his half-American Indian bodyguard is trying to settle down himself only he keeps on finding the womenfolk in his life being killed or kidnapped in brutal ways by an evil cartel known as The Consortium. Somehow the bodyguard and Lincoln, known throughout as the “Old Man,” find themselves traveling from place to place trying to clear their name and stop the evil corporate machine from taking over the West, spending some time speaking in front of Congress, robbing some banks in New York, and hobnobbing with the Sioux in the Dakotas. The author is so incompetent at writing a compelling narrative that he resorts to two MacGuffins, one of them a ledger that details the corruption of the Consortium that the book’s villain happens to be looking for and somehow lost in one of the improbable bank robberies, and the other the bodyguard’s daughter, who ends up having her thumbs cut off and is kidnapped some half a dozen times in this book it seems.
This is a book where the author’s attempt to do more ends up doing less for the reader. The author could have decided to write a straight up revisionist history in the vein of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, and while that book would have been terrible, it would have been able to be evaluated on historical and social and political grounds. Alternatively, the author could have focused on writing a good adventure novel with believable characters and an excellent plot. Unfortunately, the book’s political angles and its terrible characterization of the book’s white men in particular actively hinder enjoyment of the book, while the book’s interest incompetence as a story make its political opinions even more ridiculous. When your film does a worse job at presenting Abraham Lincoln in a plausible fashion than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, you are doing a terrible job. This is an author that should stick to something that does not involve history, as this novel is an atrocity. If not the worst book of all time, it may be the worst novel about Abraham Lincoln that I have ever read, and that is no mean achievement.
 See, for example: