The Lincoln Secret

By: John A. McKinsey

The Lincoln Secret is a historical mystery-adventure novel set in modern-day America. Founded upon several historical theories about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, the novel takes the reader through Abraham Lincoln's life and death while the characters work to unravel several mysteries from that period. The story follows two main characters: Sean Johnson, a reporter in Seattle, who is researching a theory that Abraham Enloe fathered Abraham Lincoln; Kim Poole, a woman in Kansas City, who uncovers a family secret that her ancestor changed his last name over fear of something related to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. A professor of history at University of Tennessee who specializes in Lincoln soon joins the mix, as does his sister, Mary Fester, an Enloe family historian living in Phoenix. There are sinister forces at work against them, a fact the reader understands better than the characters. The story’s primary settings are Denver and a region of the south covering portions of Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The novel also visits the Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Kentucky and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum complex in Springfield, Illinois. The story culminates in a search to find a secret left over from General Sherman’s occupation of Atlanta and his march across Georgia to the sea.

The core mystery in The Lincoln Secret is whether Abraham Lincoln’s father was really Thomas Lincoln. A documented version of history holds that Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, became pregnant while working in Abraham Enloe’s household as a servant girl. She was sent back to Kentucky in disgrace where she secretly had the child after marrying Thomas Lincoln. The Lincoln Secret probes into the topic of who Abraham Lincoln’s father really was and raises doubts about when he was really born. Also featured are the mysteries surrounding Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and involving General Sherman’s capturing of Atlanta during the Civil War.




When Kimberly Poole, the owner of a small garden and kitchen shop in Kansas, begins to research her family lineage, she discovers that her family's name had been changed. Meanwhile, in Seattle, a reluctant freelance journalist is assigned a story by his editor regarding the true paternity of Abraham Lincoln. Lots of Google searching and emailing brings these two stories together in 'The Lincoln Secret' (Martin Pearl Publishing; $13.99), in which author John McKinsey conjures a Da Vinci Code–esque historic novel from an ongoing theory about the true origins of America's most revered president.

McKinsey says The Lincoln Secret came about when he stumbled across an out-of-print book called Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: The True Genesis of a Wonderful Man, published in 1899. It documents an alternate oral history that Lincoln was an illegitimate child actually fathered by one Abraham Enloe. When Nancy Hanks worked on Enloe's farm in North Carolina, the story goes, she became pregnant; she returned to Kentucky in shame, then married Thomas Lincoln, who accepted the child as his own. Interweaving this story into his novel, McKinsey has written a compelling mystery of genealogy, history and personal journey that questions not only the story of Lincoln but the truth of all history. —G.M.


“What’s in a name for those who desire to know about their family roots or heritage? We are in a global society that values our reputations, our good names.


In William Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet famously asks, ‘What’s in a name?’ In John A. McKinsey’s The Lincoln Secret, Kim Poole asks herself the same question and finds out more than she bargained for. The plot thickens in The Lincoln Secret with the discovery of a family tree gone awry. The good hearted researching of the genealogical trail turns into investigative intrigue and is detailed with threatening chases, FBI involvement, a death of a woman once involved in earlier research of Lincoln’s bloodline, and more; all blend to be thought tantalizing storyline.


The challenge faced with The Lincoln Secret, as McKinsey's earlier (2008) work, was a balance between crucial investigative detail (and rightfully so a lot of it) and showing the narrative. The challenge no doubt took on a dilemma: stay with details or veer from a tell style of writing into a show style of narrative, and possibly, by that, change the novel’s fast pace. The Lincoln Secret is refreshing as a raw display of McKinsey’s earlier talent. After all, who would want the then first time novelist, John A. Mckinsey, to leave out one detail when so much about the detail is what Kim Poole’s and Sean Johnson’s future was riding on? Hold on to The Lincoln Secret as a collector’s item; because if McKinsey ever challenges himself to rewrite—splitting The Lincoln Secret into three books in a series that show not only the genealogical intrigue but also show intermeshed past accounts of and from Lincoln’s life and reputation—Abe Lincoln and Mystery buffs alike will have a new favorite author.


The Lincoln Secret evokes readers to challenge their own prejudices about history.”


Salvador SeBasco

Literary Director and host of THE INSIDE VIEW SHOWTM BROADCAST

book critic, on staff with a CNN affiliate station.

January 22, 2011



John A. McKinsey | Author


Author and lawyer John McKinsey lives in Northern California. His novel, The Lincoln Secret, explores real mysteries about Lincoln and the Civil War, though a modern-day mystery adventure. A lifelong researcher of Abraham Lincoln, he speaks and writes about Abraham Lincoln regularly. John also practices energy and business law in Sacramento and teaches Energy Law at the Law School at U.C. Davis. He is currently completing his second novel, The Grant Legacy, while also competing the 7th edition of his textbook, Understanding The Law and completing a new non-fiction book for lawyers, The Organized Attorney.



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