Despite the raging war between French and British, Scottish exile Duncan McCallum has begun to settle into a new life on the fringes of colonial America, traveling the woodlands with his companion Conawago, even joining the old Indian on his quest to find the last surviving members of his tribe. But the joy they feel on reaching the little settlement of Christian Indians is shattered when they find its residents ritually murdered. As terrible as the deaths may be, Conawago perceives something even darker and more alarming: he is convinced they are a sign of a terrible crisis in the spiritworld which he must resolve.
Trying to make sense of the murders, Duncan is accused by the British army of the crime. Escaping prison to follow the trail of evidence, he finds himself hounded by vengeful soldiers and stalked by Scottish rebels who are mysteriously trying to manipulate the war to their advantage. As he pieces together the puzzle of violence and deception he gradually realizes that it may not only be the lives of Duncan and his friends that hang in the balance, but the very survival of the native tribes. When he finally discovers the terrible truth, Duncan is forced to make a fateful choice between his beloved Highland clans and the woodland natives who have embraced and protected him.
Original Death: A Mystery of Colonial America by Eliot Pattison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Historical fiction that I recommend for fans of James Alexander Thom. Also reminiscent of The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper and Michael Blake's Dances with Wolves.
Because the Scottish Jacobite heritage in early America is a strong feature in this book, this story may have some appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon, as long as readers note that Original Death isn't a love story. The main character, the Scottish exile Duncan McCallum, keeps his distance from most women because he's a decent bloke and he's sweet on a gal back home. We only catch glimpses of women in this story, but readers are promised a love angle that will evolve over the course of the series.
It's been a long time since I've read up on Iroquois history. The mystery is well-hidden in an intricate plot, provided that you don't already know all the details.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review but I look forward to future installments of the series.
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