The Ceremony of Innocence

William Hanlin’s Civil War, a novel in seven parts….

Volume One: The Ceremony of Innocence

April, 1861, the country is on the verge of war and someone is killing the women of Hartford while William Hanlin – State’s Attorney, Mexican War veteran, watches his carefully constructed anonymity fray as he is swept back into a world he left abruptly years earlier.


Bruce Catton meets Deadwood and Band of Brothers with a dash of John Grisham.

“. . . a very promising start to an overdue series on the real Civil War . . . the point of view and voice are very well done . . . “~ Richard Slotkin, The Long Road to Antietam, Two-time National Book Award Finalist.

I have been reading Civil War fiction for over 50 years, and I can scarcely if ever remember reading a book that did the subject more justice . . .  remarkably good history . . . An intriguing “whodunit,” it weaves an intricate pattern of deception and revelation … and brings to life characters that are engaging and totally believable.    ~ Dr. Donald C. Elder III, Professor of History at Eastern New Mexico University author of A Damned Iowa Greyhound: The Civil War Letters of William Henry Harrison Clayton

The Ceremony of Innocence is “a unique blend of detective-style noir and civil war history” a “character-driven drama that also manages to be darkly comical.”

“This novel is successful based in no small part on the anti-hero charisma of its protagonist. William Hanlin, the soldier and state’s attorney, tells us the story though a first-person narrative that is compelling, and weirdly funny. The eloquent prose that Hicks uses for Hanlin seems appropriate for the era, but also suggests a witty man so disgusted by the bureaucracy around him that his command of the language (punctuated by plenty of profanity and insults), becomes endearing and a little sarcastic. Hanlin’s wit, style and distaste for his superiors recalls characters like Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, the Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and Yossarian in Catch-22. He is a really smartly drawn and compelling character.”

“Both the Civil War setting and the conversation-centered prose also work very well. I felt like I was present in the smoke-filled rooms, with bushy beards and tobacco-stained furniture, while reams of snappy dialogue shot back and forth. The amount of dialogue in the book approaches Hemingway-levels, but works well to entertain and illuminate many of the supporting and minor characters.”

“This book is a great ride- funny, cutting, and intense, with a terrific central character.”

If there is a problem with the quality of the book that does not include being upset with any of the following portrayals of Civil War America – profanity, sex, violence, sarcasm, black humor, racism in every form, obscene political motivation, criminality, authoritarianism, disloyalty, censorship, profiteering, terrorism, guerrilla warfare -side by side with humanity and astonishing valor, we will happily (well, not really, we’ll pout, throw things and curse your name, but you won’t know any of that) refund the cost of the book with its return (in the dim hope we can get the printer to accept the blame).