The Conductor

Roger A. Smith


Rian Krieger's Journey - Book 1 Rule #1 of the Underground Railroad: If someone doesn’t need to know something, don’t tell them. Philadelphia, 1835. The journey begins. Kicked out of her...

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Rian Krieger's Journey - Book 1

Rule #1 of the Underground Railroad: If someone doesn’t need to know something, don’t tell them.

Philadelphia, 1835. The journey begins.

Kicked out of her third school for fighting, 11-year-old tomboy Rian Krieger gets an unanticipated education in her father’s factories. The City of Brotherly Love is a roiling stew of rivalry, prejudice, and change that pits German artisans, Irish immigrants, and the largest population of free Blacks in America against one another.

Steam engines choosh throughout the city. Workers dig ditches for new gas street lights. The fledgling railroad industry hints that change will soon come even faster.

Rian is swept into this racial and economic turmoil by three charismatic mentors. Foreman Jules Freeman, one of the few Black men in Philadelphia placed in charge of whites, introduces Rian to the Underground Railroad.

Rian’s Irish cousin Seamus strives to prove himself amidst the hostility of Otto’s German workers and launches a new fire brigade with a controversial mission. Next-door neighbor Lucretia Mott finds her voice as a stirring abolitionist.

Rian befriends Olivia Tucker, the daughter of slave owners from Charleston who summer in Philadelphia. Together, they plot to free Olivia’s mammy from enslavement. Secrets pile up. Rian finds that she must apply Rule #1 to many parts of her life.


I flew through it! There was so much to enjoy.... overall, you wrote with precision and made the place and time come alive. The city teemed with the technology and politics and rivalries of the day; your descriptions were deft and created verisimilitude without slowing the narrative down. I love Rian's arc and how much of a fighter she is. I also loved her "awakening" (if that's the right word) and increasing awareness of how the world works. That felt quite true to any time. I particularly liked the pacing of the book; you keep things moving and you use dialogue really well.

Excellent and enjoyable!

—Alex Myers - Author of the novels Revolutionary, Continental Divide, and The Story of Silence

How did members of the LGBTQ community navigate the historical world of the 1800s? The answers come alive in the fascinating journey of Rian Krieger, looking for freedom for herself and others amidst slave catchers, devils, idiots, Quakers, railroad visionaries, vigilantes, and ordinary heroes in pre-Civil War Philadelphia. Vivid dialogue, compelling and unexpected characters, and a sharp eye for historical accuracy bring to life the inner and outer worlds inherent to the fight to end slavery, the battle to establish equal rights for all people, and the timelessness of heartbreak — all from two centuries ago.

—Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of Mommy Wars, The Baby Chase, The Naked Truth, and the New York Times best-selling memoir, Crazy Love

Good storyline. Wonderful characters. The scenes identified by the names of the characters is a technique used by one of my favorite authors: William Faulkner in The Sound and the Fury. An amazing novel.

—Philip Horn, former Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

by Roger A, Smith
Page Count: 334
Trim Size: 6 X 9
Publish Date: July 8, 2022
Imprint: Milford House Press
Genre: Historical

FICTION / Historical / Civil War Era
FICTION / African American & Black / Historical

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