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Reviewed by Dr. Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
Author Robert Peecher, Jr. offers his latest Jackson Speed story entitled Jackson Speed on the Orange Turnpike. He has done a lot of fascinating research which leads to an interesting story. However, his lead character, Jackson Speed, is not a main character you will like. Indeed, Speed is a coward and a deserter. He has played the North against the South during the Civil War and his actions are self-serving and, at times, sociopathic. Speed has been a spy for both the North and the South. He is currently in the South, an unwilling participant in the battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg. While he chases women around for sexual favors, he is frequently caught up in Civil War activities. His presence is always recognized as positive and as valorous. Speed takes pride in his ability to talk his way through and out of most responsibility, but is occasionally caught up in the fray as well. Speed's prime occupation is the ongoing company of a Union spy, Jenny Rakesstraw, who continually offers sexual favors in exchange for information about Confederate locations and intentions.
Jackson Speed on the Orange Turnpike is filled with both subtle and obvious humor. It reminds one of the involvement of Forest Gump in historical events, and yet Jackson Speed has so few redeeming qualities that it didn't quite leave me laughing. I did like the final chapter in which Peecher had Speed interacting with a Union soldier. Had there been more of that interspersed in the fascinating accounts of history, I would have come away being able to have compassion for Speed's aversion to taking responsibility for his own actions. For me, the highlights of the book would have to be the intense research which went into the story itself. Peecher has an excellent sense of historical fiction. A bit more positive character development would have enhanced the read.