Her neighbors in Richmond, Virginia, called her Crazy Bett. Her name was Elizabeth Van Lew, and during the Civil War Elizabeth ran a Union spy ring in the capital of the Confederacy-pulling it off by posing as a madwoman. Crazy Bett is based on historical events and takes a sometimes light-hearted look at the world of Civil War espionage. Vital war intelligence flows into Elizabeth's Richmond mansion-and out in coded messages secreted in bodices or the boots of couriers. Aiding her are African American Union loyalists, including an ex-slave who works undercover as a servant in the Jefferson Davis White House and a clerk she's placed in the city's infamous Libby Prison. Through Elizabeth's and her underground network, Union prisoners of war make a dramatic escape to safety-but not before one, the rakish Captain Harry Howard, loses his footing to Josey Holmes. As the war of rosewater chivalry descends into a street brawl, plots and counterplots threaten Confederate president Davis--and threaten to ignite antiwar revolution in the North. Under Elizabeth's guiding hand, and in spite of her grave doubts about the wisdom of her actions, characters conspire to thwart conspiracy, often by adopting disguises or posing as double agents. Among them is Howard's comic sidekick, a Scots doctor who occasionally enjoys a wee drop o' the malt. Conspiracy crescendos when John Wilkes Booth hatches a scheme to abduct Abraham Lincoln. Howard and Josey survive a breathless moonlit horseback ride through Confederate lines to save the president-and to save each other.