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As of January 1866, Marine Corps major Seth Parker has been in war-ravaged Mississippi two months, investigating the October murder of Treasury operative Alan Guthrie. Guthrie had been in Mississippi only a short time when he was killed, and his reason for being in the area remains a mystery, both to authorities here and, if they’re to be believed, to his seniors in Washington. Discouraged by civilian usurpation of army’s intelligence assets, despite looming Southern intransigence, Parker’s seniors have doubts about Guthrie’s activities and have sent Parker into the wilds of Mississippi for answers.
This is not Parker’s first foray into Mississippi’s hinterland. He was here in the spring of ’63, before Vicksburg fell, but his covert operations at that time had led to only fleeting success and a precipitous departure with a bullet in his chest and a battle for his life. Southern by blood and breeding, Seth Parker kept faith with his people, who believed Kentucky best served by remaining in the Union when most of the South opted out, but despite the duty binding him, the South has his empathy, and the beautiful woman who saved his life one fateful spring day back in ’63, his heart.
Widowed Rebecca Mackey lost not only her young husband and unborn son to the war, but her father, a brother, and a sister. Now her sole surviving sibling is fighting for his life, the victim of a lunatic’s bullet. But the attack on Eli Calhoon and his wealthy Northern bride soon proves only one clue to a mystery evolving from home-grown violence in Mississippi to a web of intrigue in the halls of the U. S. Treasury.
At a time when treason is synonymous with the South and her people convenient scapegoats to disguise the misdeeds of unprincipled men, Becky learns her brother is a suspect in Guthrie’s death. Worse, the man who set his sights on Eli Calhoon two months earlier is Major Seth Parker, the wounded enemy whose life she saved in 1863. Having already been a victim of ruthless agents serving a tyrannical government, Becky has no delusions as to the odds stacking up against her critically-wounded brother, who is at risk of being hanged for murder, and is loath to trust a self-proclaimed ally garbed in despicable blue.
As evidence mounts, Parker realizes it was Guthrie’s unexplained actions that first led him to suspect Calhoon. Now, the on-going investigation is leading unscrupulous men to accuse Rebecca Mackey of complicity in conspiring against the government. Anxious over her role in Guthrie’s mysterious death, Parker is willing to risk anything to prove her innocent. He needs answers, and the Widow Mackey is harboring some.
Honors Banner is a sequel to Charlsie Russells Camellia Creek published in 2013 and advances the mystery of murdered Treasury agent Alan Guthrie, the catalyst that brought Seth Parker into the lives of unreconstructed rebel Eli Calhoon and his reluctant bride. Rich in the history of the period, it explores the multi-faceted narrative of unwarranted war, state rights, federal violations of the Constitution, and the institutionalization of tyranny by a United States in the hands of fanatics and traitors, a focus largely ignored when discussing Reconstruction today.