When a ship arriving from London explodes in Boston Harbor, both the peace of the colonial city and Duncan McCallum’s life are shattered. Summoned by his new friend John Hancock to a beach awash with the bodies of the victims, Duncan discovers that the ship was deliberately sabotaged, apparently to cover the theft by French agents provocateurs of a secret document being carried to the Sons of Liberty. Hancock refuses to let him take his evidence to the authorities, for this is 1768 and relations with the government are so sour that officials are being hanged in effigy.
Fearing that the intrigues of Hancock and the Sons might set the colonies ablaze, Duncan relentlessly pursues the truth, only to be falsely charged with treason and murder. To escape the hangman’s noose and restore his honor, Duncan has no choice but to follow a northbound trail of violence and deception while being relentlessly hounded by bountymen and vengeful soldiers. With the help of unexpected new friends, including Ethan Allen, aged natives, and outlawed Jesuits, he survives scalp hunters, imprisonment, and his own spiritual crisis, only to realize he cannot resolve the terrible crimes until he first understands the emerging truths about freedom in the American colonies.
The Tibetans are terrified, the notorious Public Security Bureau wants nothing to do with the murders, and the army seems determined to just bury the dead again and Shan with them. No one wants to pursue the truth–except Shan, who finds himself in a violent collision between a heartbreaking, clandestine effort to reunite refugees from Tibet separated for decades and a covert corruption investigation that reaches to the top levels of the government in Beijing, China. The terrible secret Shan uncovers changes his town and his life forever.
Aboard a British convict ship bound for the New World, protagonist Duncan McCallum witnesses a series of murders and apparent suicides among his fellow Scottish prisoners. A strange trail of clues leads Duncan into the New World and eventually thrusts him into the bloody maw of the French and Indian War. Duncan is indentured to the British Lord Ramsey, whose estate in the uncharted New York woodlands is a Heart of Darkness where multiple warring factions are engaged in physical, psychological, and spiritual battle.
Exploring a frontier world shrouded in danger and defying death in a wilderness populated by European settlers, Indian shamans, and mysterious scalping parties, Duncan, the exiled chief of his near-extinct Scottish clan, finds that sometimes justice cannot be reached unless the cultures and spirits of those involved are appeased.
The corpse is missing its head and is dressed in American clothes. Found by a Tibetan prison work gang on a windy cliff, the grisly remains clearly belong to someone too important for Chinese authorities to bury and forget. So the case is handed to veteran police inspector Shan Tao Yun. Methodical, clever Shan is the best man for the job, but he too is a prisoner, deported to Tibet for offending someone high up in Beijing's power structure. Granted a temporary release, Shan is soon pulled into the Tibetan people's desperate fight for its sacred mountains and the Chinese regime's blood-soaked policies. Then, a Buddhist priest is arrested, a man Shan knows is innocent. Now time is running out for Shan to find the real killer.
The Skull Mantra is the winner of the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.
The year is 1765, at the beginning of the Stamp Tax dissent, the first organized resistance to English rule. Duncan McCallum is drawn into the mystery of a series of murders and kidnappings that are strangely connected to the theft of an Iroquois artifact. In following the trail, he uncovers a network of secret runners supporting the nascent “committees of correspondence,” engaged in the first organized political dissent across colonial borders. When he is captured and thrown into slavery with the kidnapped runners, Duncan encounters a powerful conspiracy of highly placed English aristocrats who are bent on crushing all dissent. Inspired by an aged Native American slave and new African friends, Duncan decides not just to escape but to turn their own intrigue against the London lords.
The fourth entry in the Bone Rattler series moves ever closer to the beginning of the American Revolution. Included in the novel’s cast of characters are figures who will have their destinies to fulfill in the next decade: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, the early Pennsylvania rebel James Smith, and Dr. Benjamin Rush. Blood of the Oak takes a fresh view on the birth of the new American nation, suggesting that the “freedom” that became the centerpiece of the Revolution was uniquely American, rising not only from unprecedented political discourse but also from the extraordinary bond with the natural world experienced by frontier settlers and native tribes.