From the author at the top of my power rotation. This is #6 in his Matthew Corbett series. Remember now, this series takes place in the early 1700s
At the end of River of Souls, Matthew Corbett was living way back in the swamps of South Carolina outside of Charles Town. He lives with a bit of a deranged woman who has mistaken Matthew for her husband. Various fights and battles have left Matthew with a less than stellar memory. He is being pursued by a Prussian count named Dahlgren who knows that the head of a massive English criminal network, the infamous Professor Fell, will reward him richly by delivering Matthew.
He kidnaps Matthew and books passage on a less than sea-worthy ship that barely survives a massive storm. During the storm, Matthew’s memory returns, realizes he is in a bad situation, and manages to escape Dahlgren’s clutches that results in Dahlgren’s death. The other passengers are appalled and turn Matthew over to authorities when they land in England. This places Matthew in the English criminal justice system where he spends excessive time in jails and prisons of increasing disparity.
Matthew’s mentor back in New York City, Hudson Greathouse, travels to South Carolina in search of Matthew. Finally learning Matthew is in transit to England, returns to New York to prepare for his own Atlantic crossing. The girl Matthew broke up with, to protect her from becoming a pawn in the Corbett vs. Fell battle, forces her way into Greathouse’s plans by joining his trip.
London streets are controlled by gangs who deal in White Velvet (gin infused with an addictive substance, supplied by Professor Fell’s personal chemist). But the gangs fear a masked vigilante named Albion who kills key members of the gangs in an attempt to break up their grip on the populace.
Fell knows Matthew is in England and executes a plan that will bring Matthew to him. But Fell has people within his own empire trying to topple Fell and take over.
That has been a pitiful attempt at presenting McCammon’s complex story. NYC . . .SC . . . surviving a hurricane . . . jail . . . prison . . . the court system . . . vigilantes . . . gangs . . . Mother Deare . . . drugs . . . week long transits by carriage . . . a fortified town . . . a naval bombardment . . . drugged compatriots . . . climbing in bed with the devil to save loved ones . . . dental ‘work’ . . . murder . . . mass murder . . . pistol/rifle/knife/sword play . . .
McCammon writes big stories and this is no exception, coming in at just under 600 pages. But as with every single book of his, length in never an issue. Upon reaching the last page, I still wanted more, but will have to wait a while to continue following Matthew’s travails.
If this stimulates anyone to consider this series, I strongly suggest starting at the beginning with Speaks the Nightbird. Matthew’s journey is so convoluted, detailed, and eloquently presented that it would be a mistake to jump anywhere else.
Available May 2016