October 16, 1859.John Brown and his gang of abolitionist Raiders take hostage the town of Harper’s Ferry, the first step in what is to be an armed insurrection in the slaveholding states of the South. Less than twenty four hours later, John Brown isMoreOctober 16, 1859.John Brown and his gang of abolitionist Raiders take hostage the town of Harper’s Ferry, the first step in what is to be an armed insurrection in the slaveholding states of the South. Less than twenty four hours later, John Brown is captured, put on trial and sentenced to death by hanging.Ironically, the first victim of John Brown’s armed assault was a black freedman working as a porter on the B&O Railroad, shot dead in the darkness of a train tunnel.
That man’s name: Heyward Shepherd.October 16, 1995.Amidst the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the televised O.J. Simpson murder trial, and the Million Man March, Liam McNaughton, a young, lovelorn lawyer, is mysteriously appointed to represent an indigent black man charged with breaking into a Washington D.C.
Catholic school.Liam is the ultimate slacker lawyer - he dreams of quixotic Supreme Court challenges and CNN interviews, but hes never tried a case. Though the rather routine Unlawful Entry charge is only a misdemeanor, Liams client has eight years of back-up time hanging over his head resulting from an earlier conviction for a heinous crime.
And as the trial begins before an all-white jury, Liam comes to realize that he himself has become an unwitting cog in a conspiracy to trigger a bloody civil war.The Heyward Shepherd Conspiracy is told through various dialogue-heavy narratives, including letters, memoranda, court orders, police reports, and a transcript of a trial, all of which allows the books ensemble of characters to each explain in their own words their respective roles in the diabolical plot: Annie Fairbrother, the veteran prosecutor whose high-risk pregnancy tests her resolve in sending a baby killer back to prison- De La Suggs, a diminutive hit-man afflicted by AIDS and a busy schedule- James McCoy, a closeted police officer who believes, somewhat messianically, that he has supernatural investigative powers- and the mysterious Captain - a pot-smoking, one-armed U.S.
Marshal with a penchant for Civil War trivia.Taut to the last page, The Heyward Shepherd Conspiracy ends as it begins - with a volcanic explosion of ladybugs, the shimmering Curtain of Life - a visual testament to the frightening ardor of real life anti-abortion terrorists like Paul Hill and Eric Rudolph who picture themselves as modern day John Browns.