Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Expanded from an Amazon 5star review.

A thriller to rank with Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy-which I coincidentally read immediately before this.

That was the title to my Amazon review and I stand by it, but otherwise, apart the quality and that they are thrillers, they have nothing else in common.

Set in growing colony town of New York in 1702, it continues the story of the young clerk, Matthew Corbett, (whose story begins in Speaks The Nightbird, though prior knowledge of his activities is not required). The town is terrified because of the activities of a violent murderer (and possibly serial killer) nicknamed The Masker. This is only the beginning of an exquisitely written authentically detailed historical thriller which grows more and more complex as the highly intelligent Corbett begins to investigate the dark secrets of the new society and the dark and dangerous world in which he lives. It is populated with a number of vivid and fascinating characters who range from the kindly and the charming to the deepest black. It is stunningly inventive with a rich use of language and vernacular and a plot that twists and turns in many unexpected directions.

In fact there is some rather curious use of language in which certain phrases seem like variations on current idioms. In a book which appears to be meticulously researched, these seeming anachronisms may well be the author's little jokes. On the other hand, I'm not sure what the English language sounded like in New York circa 1700. McCammon does use some archaisms without doing anything to lessen the book's readability, so I really don't know.Certainly the historical detail appears to be correct. Early we have the arrival of Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, the new governor of New York who appears at his first public meeting dressed in drag -in imitation of the reigning Queen Anne- and Wikipaedia verifies from sources that he is alleged to have spent much time in dressed as a woman, though this is not undisputed by some historians.

I really don't want to say to much otherwise I might spoil the many pleasures that this rich and readable novel possesses. McCammon is a terrific storyteller and I loved this book. Perhaps it's best if I end this review by saying I read this book on holiday and within hours of my return (and about half an hour before writing this review) had ordered the third in the series which was published earlier this year. 

No comments: