From Publishers Weekly
Entertaining in all of the ways readers have come to expect, the prolific Fleming's (The Officers' Wives; Remember the Morning; etc.) newest historical fiction concerns a British scheme to kidnap George Washington. It's the winter of 1780, and Washington's near-mutinous rebel army is stationed in Morristown, N.J., with the Brits across the Hudson. Both sides engage in "intelligence" work; indeed, it seems everyone in Fleming's large cast of characters is a turncoat. When Caesar Muzzey, a slave owned by Flora Kuyper and secret courier for the Redcoats, turns up dead in the American camp, Congressman Hugh Stapleton and Chaplain Caleb Chandler become enmeshed in espionage. Caleb wants justice for the dead slave and begins snooping around; Hugh is uninterested until he meets Flora, a beautiful seductress in the pay of the Brits. Even the meek Yankee chaplain falls in love, though he is coerced by his American superiors into lying to Flora and working with her boss, English spymaster and prospective Washington-kidnapper Walter Beckford, thus becoming an unlikely double agent. A literally explosive twist at the end shows exactly where each character's true loyalties lie. Readers will have no trouble overlooking some inflated writing in favor of the resourceful plot and well-drawn historical figures. It's been two years since Fleming has produced a straightforward historical novel (in the interim, he has authored Hours of Gladness, a contemporary thriller, and Duel, a popular history of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr), and his fans will cheer his return to the genre. (Dec.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Best-selling author Fleming follows Hours of
Gladness (1999) with another thriller, this one intriguingly set during the Revolutionary War. Well anchored in accurate historical detail, the novel offers a provocative fictional take on spying and counterspying while General Washington and his ragtag army are holed up in their winter encampment, struggling to survive the harsh conditions. This espionage saga has almost a John le Carre feel to it: intrigue and double cross are center stage, with the Revolutionary War standing in for the cold war. The British and American armies are not the only forces at odds here; colonialists who support the revolution are in conflict with those whose loyalties continue to lie with the British crown. And within these two sets of conflicts, Fleming has fashioned a multilayered plot about the aiding, abetting, and thwarting of British spies and American spies; even a plan for the kidnapping of General Washington is afloat. The many characters, even the great Virginian himself, emerge well-rounded and many-sided. Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved