The year is 1811, and Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood is ordered by Chief Magistrate James Read to investigate the double murder of a coachman and a naval courier on the Kent Road.
Hawkwood initially wonders why Read is so concerned by this relatively mundane case, but before long, another body is discovered, and a higher agenda emerges—an attempt by the Emperor Napoleon to deliver a crushing military and psychological blow to Britain that could lead cause terror on the seas for years to come. . . .
Gripping and fast-paced, the first book in the Hawkwood Mysteries is an impressively researched novel of suspense that features an enigmatic hero facing a dangerous threat to his homeland during the Napoleonic Wars.
Death can be a lucrative business. But it’s the corpses the body-snatchers leave behind, horribly mutilated and nailed to a tree, which sets Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood on their trail.
A new term at London’s anatomy schools stokes demand for fresh corpses, and the city’s “resurrection men” vie for control of the market. Their rivalry takes an ugly turn when a grave robber is brutally murdered and his body displayed as a warning to other gangs. To hunt down those responsible, Hawkwood must venture into London’s murkiest corners, where even more gruesome discoveries await him.
Nowhere, however, is as grim as Bedlam, notorious asylum for the insane and scene of another bizarre killing. Sent to investigate, Hawkwood finds himself pitted against his most formidable adversary yet, an obsessive genius hell-bent on advancing the cause of science at all costs.
France is engaged on two battlefronts—Spain and Russia—and her civilians are growing weary of the fight. Rebellion is brewing. Since Napoleon Bonaparte appointed himself as First Consul, there have been several attempts to either kill or overthrow him. All have failed, so far! Meanwhile in London, Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood has been seconded to the foreign arm of the Secret Service. There, he meets the urbane Henry Brooke, who tells him he’s to join a colleague in Paris on a special mission. Brooke’s agent has come up with a daring plan and he needs Hawkwood’s help to put it into action.
If the plan is successful it could lead to a negotiated peace treaty between France and the allies. Failure would mean prison, torture and a meeting with the guillotine.
When they disappear without a trace, the Navy turns in desperation to Bow Street for help. It’s time to send in a man as dangerous as the prey. It’s time to send in Hawkwood.
Heading for the safety of the Canadian border, Hawkwood’s route takes him to Albany, where the chance sighting of a former comrade-in-arms—Major Douglas Lawrence—within a consignment of British prisoners stymies to his plans. For as the two men make their escape they uncover an American plot to invade Canada. If it is successful, the entire continent will be lost. The British authorities must be warned.
Pursued by a relentless enemy, Hawkwood and Lawrence set off across the snow-bound Adirondack Mountains; the land the Iroquois call ‘The Hunting Grounds’. But they are not alone.
Buried deep in Hawkwood’s past is an old alliance – one that could save both their lives and help turn the tide of war…
The book is also a story of a remarkable love relationship. It has laugh-out-loud humor in the midst of pain. Readers will feel they are in the presence of a friend who really knows what grief is like.
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I simply cannot imagine a better portrayal of love between two people, written through pain, in homage to a loved one. If anyone wants to know about love and the feelings associated with its loss, these pages serve as an example. The book is a roadmap of how to honor the love, revisit it in grief and begin sorting out the feelings of loss . . . This is very heartfelt, powerful material.
Mike Foley, Writers Review.