We'll never know if the real Tommie Cluverius killed his cousin Lillie. Available records make convincing arguments for both guilt and innocence. John Milliken Thompson has taken the bare bones of a real case from 1885 and filled in the meat of the story using his imagination and thorough research. The body of a pregnant girl is found floating in a reservoir in Richmond, Virginia. The immediate assumption is suicide by a girl in trouble. But when the girl is identified as Lillian Madison, people come forward with information leading to the arrest of Lillian's cousin Tommie Cluverius on suspicion of murder. Tommie is a 23-year-old lawyer with a bright future. He's likeable, if a bit of a rogue, two-timing the girls who love him and making regular brothel visits. The case against him seems weak at first, and his Aunt Jane and brother Willie believe firmly in his innocence. But Tommie seems to be the only suspect in Lillian's death, and the evidence mounts. The author weaves together the present and the past, bringing in Lillie and Tommie's shared history since childhood. He shows how that history might have given Tommie a motive for murder. You'll change your mind several times throughout the story. Sometimes you'll be absolutely certain Tommie did it. Then you'll be equally sure he didn't, and you'll wonder when the real culprit will surface. Still other times, you'll be convinced that Lillie really did commit suicide, or maybe it was even an accident. We'll never know for sure, but Thompson brings the story to a convincing conclusion. Convincing enough that it made me cry, because guilty or not, Tommie's really still just a boy, and he's so fearful of the unknown. His brother Willie's unwavering loyalty is especially touching. This is a well-written, carefully researched novel, full of the period detail we historical fiction fans love to savor. Post-Civil War Richmond, Virginia and its environs really come alive with the sights, sounds, and sentiments of the era. The pace is a little slower and the prose more literary than the average contemporary mystery, but that extra attention is what makes it so rich and satisfying. I recommend it for history buffs and those who love literary mysteries.