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Eye of the Raven: A Mystery of Colonial America Hardcover – December 22, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Duncan McCallum Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Few writers can combine history and mystery as well as Edgar-winner Pattison, as shown in the sequel to 2007's Bone Rattler, which introduced Duncan McCallum, a Scot who becomes an unlikely detective in 18th-century North America. In 1760, McCallum and his close friend, Conawago, a Jesuit-trained member of the Nipmuc tribe, stumble into a case with potentially far-reaching repercussions for a peace treaty between the Iroquois and the British. When the pair find a prominent Virginia militia commander, Winston Burke, nailed to a tree with a gear wheel stuck in his chest, Conawago becomes a suspect in the man's murder. Burke turns out to be but the latest victim of a killer who's targeted surveyors sent to map the Pennsylvania wilderness. While Burke's vengeful friends are eager for swift frontier justice, McCallum works frantically to uncover the truth. Evocative language, tight plotting, and memorable characters make this a standout. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* With a bounty on his head, courageous truth-seeker Duncan McCallum, indentured survivor of the British massacre of his Highland clan brutally conveyed to the New World in Bone Rattler (2007), undertakes another treacherous investigation. Like Shan, the Chinese inspector in Pattison’s revelatory Tibetan mystery series, Duncan feels a profound connection to the imperiled indigenous people he meets, especially Conawago, a Nipmuc spiritual leader. He and Conawago are on a healing quest in the war-torn woodlands of the Iroquois Empire when they discover one in a series of ritualized murders involving surveyors and Indian shrine trees. Drawing on his passion for buried history and unique spiritual sensibility, Pattison turns a gripping mystery into a lens onto the North American conquest, bringing into focus the cruel complexity of the land grabs rampant in 1760 as conflicts intensify among various Indian tribes, the French, and the English; runaway slaves seek sanctuary; and Quakers strive for justice. Transcendent friendships, Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with electricity, and comic relief add dimension as Pattison maps the sacred geography of the woodlands and evokes the immense suffering of those who truly have the right to call them home. With high suspense and gritty lyricism, Pattison confronts mysteries human and cosmic. --Donna Seaman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; First Printing edition (December 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582435669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582435664
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Prentice on January 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eye of the Raven is the second novel that describes the adventures of Duncan McCallum, the last of his Scottish clan, and his kinship with the woodland tribes in North America in the years before the American Revolution. While you will be entertained, you will also come away from this book with a heightened awareness of one of the most pivotal periods in U.S. history. This is a terrific book on many levels; there's mystery, with Duncan's medical training giving him the ability to "read the dead" and follow the trail of more than one murderer; there's the little-known story of the affinity between the Scots, defeated by the British at Culloden, and the native American tribes; there's the complexity of the relationships between the European powers (French, English, German, Scots; indentured servants, aristocrats, missionaries, surveyors, traders, soldiers) and the Indians (Huron, the six nations of the Iroquois and many more) and the parts played by African slaves; there are heroes and villains; there's an unlikely young African heroine; and there's just a tremendous sense of the intricacies of American and world history in the 1750s and 1760s. The action moves from the Susquehanna River to Philadelphia following a struggle for land and resources between Virginians, Pennsylvanians and a dastardly New Yorker and introduces the reader to many unique characters and contrivances. I can't wait for the third volume that will perhaps reunite Duncan with his love, Sarah Ramsey, introduced in the first novel, The Bone Rattler. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I finished the Bone Rattler by Elliot Pattison, I knew that I had read a masterpiece. With some trpidation I opned Eye of the Raven, knowing how hard it is to follow-up a great work with its sequel. Well, I am pleasedd to say that Eyes of the Raven has matched my opinion of the Bone Rattler.

Pattison has done an incredible job translating the culture of the Iroquis as it comes up against the pressures of Colonial expansion. In Eyes of the Raven, the elements of a murder mystery are combined with the detailed descriptions of historical fiction to truely transport the reader to a different time. As in Achebe's Things Fall Apart, the damage to native culture from contact with Western expansion is a key element in the Eyes of the Raven. However, Pattison has left the reader with the assurance that, for at least a short period, the native culture will win out.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eliot Pattison has knocked another one out of the park. His book, "Eye of the Raven," is a lengthy examination of American colonies, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and evil land grabbers sounding all too much like contemporary business interests of the realtor-mortgage holder/land developer stripe. In this story, Duncan McCallum, the Highland Scot, is imprisoned and indentured to Lord Ramsey, a figure portrayed as evil as the Marquis de Sade.

This historical novel is about the lust for land of the colonies and the thinly disguised greed of those who would steal it, ultimately defrauding indigenous peoples, the true owners of this land as far back as history is known. Only a writer as facile as Pattison could orchestrate the large number of back stories and subplots generated by this effort. At heart, "Eye of the Raven" involves a huge land grab on the part of European settlers who want land owned by the six nations, the Susequehanne, Onandaga, Huron, Iroquois,etc. On the other side, we have secret meetings and bribes from prominent colonials who pay off some tribes and individuals to gain precedent in the land sales. "Eye of the Raven" begins with the plight of Duncan McCallum's wrongly assigned inedenture and the powerful sadist who looks forward to torturing him. At center is a "Warriors Path" a trail that roughly traces the perimeter of the vast tract of land to be sold. On the path certain sacred monuments, inscribed trees, become the altar upon which surveyors are discovered slain and tortured. In the process of discovering the murderers, falsifying land grants, freeing stolen slaves and convening a six nations council to make a treaty about the land, murder and kidnapping become almost expected in this nail biter of an epoch.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is book 2 of the series about Duncan McCallum, a Scot who has been transported as a prisoner and indentured servant to America at the time of the 7 years war (known as the French and Indian War in US history). Duncan's family has been killed as part of the English "clearances" of highland and island Scotland. Moreover, his medical studies have been interrupted after 3 years. In this book he encounters a series of bizarre murders along Indian trails leading to the west. Thus the book revolves around his attempt to solve these murders applying his medical knowledge, scientific background. The plot gets confusing in places, but Duncan and his Indian allies eventually succeed. The real strength of this book to me is in its descriptions of the time, place and people, These include the role of the Scots in the English army, the relationship between Scots and Indians, the role of Moravians interacting with Indians, the issues around Indian captives, the development of the science of electricity, the competition between the colonies for more western lands and the interactions between black slaves and Indians. Ben Franklin's science, but not Franklin himself, makes a cameo appearance. Ultimately, the story is about greed and power on the frontier. The chief villain of the previous book, Ramsey, a wealthy and prominent landowner and Duncan's master, plays another important role in this story. I would have given this 5 stars if I had been more satisfied with the ending. This is a book with substantial intellectual heft compared to the usual thriller. The descriptions of various aspects of Indian culture were fascinating to me. I look forward to reading more of this series.
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