The Reservoir A Richmond Tragedy


John Milliken Thompson’s The Reservoir is a historical mystery. Anyone who starts it will not put it down until the last page.  You have been warned. Clear your calendar before you turn to page one.

As I was reading, something was nagging at me.  What was it? Have I read this book before? No, that can’t be; it was published in 2011.  What was it?  That’s it! Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.  Both tales are based on actual events.  Both involve a boy, a girl, an unwanted pregnancy, and a body of water. They are both stories about the American class system, the haves and the have-nots. But this is where the two part company.

With acute historical accuracy, Mr. Thompson uses a murder trial transcript to spin a yarn into a great big tangled ball of uncertainty and unconditional love.  The story, in post-reconstruction Richmond, opens with the discovery of the body of young Lillie Madison in the city’s reservoir.  Tommine Cluverius, a young lawyer just beginning his career, is accused of murder.  To stave off a spoiler alert, I’ll stop here.

The story has the makings of a fine movie, the likes of Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. Hollywood are your hearing me?  Think- Jason Ritter as Tommie Cluverius, Kristen Bell as Lillie Madison and James McAvoy as Tommie’s older brother Willie.




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