Theodore Roosevelt had been president for less than a year when on a tour in New England his horse-drawn carriage was broadsided by an electric trolley. TR was thrown clear but his Secret Service bodyguard was killed instantly. The trolley's motorman pleaded guilty to manslaughter and the matter was quietly put to rest. But was it an accident or an assassination attempt...and would there be another 'accident' soon?
... a thoroughly delightful read ... This is a very old-fashioned sort of murder mystery, where most everyone is a suspect and there are the standard red herrings and false leads ... an abiding love for turn-of-the-century America and a profound interest in how the country was changing and growing at that time ... Primarily, though, The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt is about delighting its audience, and Solomon does a thorough job of doing just that. He breathes life not only into the character of John Hay, but also to a host of other luminaries ranging from Henry Adams to Nellie Bly. Hay is nobody’s idea of a great detective, but he works his way through the labyrinthine plot with verve and purpose. Anyone with any kind of interest in the period and the characters will be glad to immerse themselves in the narrative, and the more casual mystery reader will appreciate the overall sense of suspense and gratification at the resolution.
Solomon raises some plausible doubts about the true cause of the tragedy ... Hay is a congenial protagonist—intelligent, witty, and world-weary ... Solomon fondly recreates the Washington, D.C., of that era ... But there are minuses. In his perambulations, Hay interviews and interrogates everyone from corrupt Sen. Mark Hanna to wealthy financier J.P. Morgan, then ratiocinates at length on the possibilities. This succession of leads and blind alleys gets a little repetitive; one starts to long for someone to just fess up and say they did it. Also in the minus column—the resolution of the mystery. Many suspects with a motive to kill Theodore Roosevelt were famous, with reams of words written about their lives. In considering the possible mastermind, the informed reader will have to weigh the evidence of history against the likelihood of their plotting to murder the President. Still, The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt is a pleasant gateway to Hay.
... a splendid tale ... Solomon uses the Pittsfield setting with aplomb ... Solomon’s conclusion of this investigation exceeds the boundary of the actual facts. The coroner in Pittsfield had found the 1902 South Street collision to have been an accident. Burt Solomon does not, and his conclusion is much more satisfying to the reader and to President Roosevelt.