Meet today’s featured ThrillerFest 2017 debut author, Jonathan Putnam and his soon-to-be-released historical thriller, Perish from the Earth. Check out what he has to say about his favorite thriller and preferred method of murder (in books!).

BookTrib: If you were on death row, what would be your last read? Why? 

Jonathan Putnam: My first inclination is to say The Idiot’s Guide to Death Row Appeals, for obvious reasons, but since I was a trial lawyer before becoming a mystery writer I could actually represent myself. So I’ll say instead Nabokov’s autobiography, Speak, Memory. It is one of the most beautiful, perceptive and haunting books I’ve ever read. I’d want it with me at the end.

BT: If you were going to kill off your protagonist what method would you use?  And why?

JP: This is tricky, because my protagonist (or co-protagonist) is the young Abraham Lincoln, and everybody knows how he was killed off in real life. Since my series is set on the frontier of the 1830s, long before Lincoln became Lincoln, I’d probably kill him off in a fight aboard a steamboat when he tries to break up a crooked card game. My victim dies in similar circumstances in my new novel, Perish from the Earth.

BT: What is the all-time best thriller you have ever read? And why?

JP: The first answer that comes to mind is Robert Ludlum’s The Osterman Weekend. I read it when I was twelve and I was afraid to be alone or to turn out the lights for about a month afterwards.

Head over to Amazon to buy a copy of Perish from the Earth now!


PERISH FROM THE EARTH Jonathan PutnamA murder aboard a steamboat forces Abraham Lincoln to make a fateful choice—one on which the future of the nation may hang, if his client doesn’t first—in this gripping follow-up to critically acclaimed author Jonathan Putnam’s “masterfully crafted” (Alex Grecian) debut, These Honored Dead.

Newly minted trial lawyer Abraham Lincoln is riding the circuit, traveling by carriage with other lawyers and a judge to bring justice to the remote parts of Illinois. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s close friend Joshua Speed steams up the Mississippi River aboard a steamboat owned by Speed’s father. Suddenly, his journey is interrupted when a rigged card game turns to violence—and then murder.

Speed enlists Lincoln to defend the accused, but soon they come to discover that more than just the card games are crooked aboard the Speed family’s ship. As the day of judgment hurtles toward them, Lincoln must fight to save the life of his client while also preserving the cause he holds so dear.

Meticulously researched and deftly plotted, Jonathan F. Putnam’s second Lincoln and Speed mystery, Perish from the Earth, revolves around a true historical murder that, while nearly forgotten today, was one of the most infamous crimes of the nineteenth century and played a key role in driving the nation toward civil war.


Jonathan PutnamJonathan Putnam is a writer and attorney. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he is a nationally renowned trial lawyer and an avid amateur Lincoln scholar. His second Lincoln & Speed Mystery, Perish from the Earth, will be published in July. The first book in the Lincoln & Speed series is the critically acclaimed These Honored Dead. Find out more on his website.