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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

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: #1,491,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eliot Pattison has been described as a "writer of faraway mysteries," a label which is particularly apt for someone whose travel and interests span such a broad spectrum. After reaching a million miles of global trekking, visiting every continent but Antarctica, Pattison stopped logging his miles and set his compass for the unknown. Today he avoids well-trodden paths whenever possible, in favor of wilderness, lesser known historical venues, and encounters with indigenous peoples.

An international lawyer by training, early in his career Pattison began writing on legal and business topics, producing several books and dozens of articles published on three continents. In the late 1990's he decided to combine his deep concerns for the people of Tibet with his interest in venturing into fiction by writing The Skull Mantra. Winning the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery--and listed as a finalist for best novel for the year in Dublin's prestigious IMPAC awards--The Skull Mantra launched the Inspector Shan series, which now includes Water Touching Stone, Bone Mountain, Beautiful Ghosts, The Prayer of the Dragon, Mandarin Gate, and the Soul of Fire. Both The Skull Mantra and Water Touching Stone were selected by Amazon.com for its annual list of ten best new mysteries. Water Touching Stone was selected by Booksense as the number one mystery of all time for readers' groups. Mandarin Gate was selected as one of the best mysteries of 2012 by Amazon, CNN and Publishers Weekly. The Inspector Shan series has been translated into over twenty languages around the world.

Pattison entered China for the first time within weeks of normalization of relations with the United States in 1980 and during his many return visits to China and neighboring countries developed the intense interest in the rich history and culture of the region that is reflected in these books. They have been characterized as creating a new "campaign thriller" genre for the way they weave significant social and political themes into their plots. Indeed, as soon as the novels were released they became popular black market items in China for the way they highlight issues long hidden by Beijing.

Pattison's longtime interest in another "faraway" place -the 18th century American wilderness and its woodland Indians-- led to the launch of his Bone Rattler series, which quickly won critical acclaim for its poignant presentation of Scottish outcasts and Indians during the upheaval of the French and Indian War. In Pattison's words, "this was an extraordinary time that bred the extraordinary people who gave birth to America," and the lessons offered by the human drama in that long-ago wilderness remain fresh and compelling today.

A former resident of Boston and Washington, Pattison resides on an 18th century farm in Pennsylvania with his wife, three children, and an ever-expanding menagerie of animals. For more information, visit: www.eliotpattison.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Treachery, averice, hate, and a lust for power make this second tale of Duncan and Conawago a thrilling journey into the colonial days of early America. This is an intriging story of how the English and other Europeans schemed to steal the ancient lands of the Six Nation Indian tribes from their rightful owners...the Indians. It is the story of a vast land grab by the early wealthy men from Virginia and Pennsylvania, and puts into perspective the beginning of the end of the way of life for the Indian nations. This is the timeless story of man's inhumanity to man in the name of righteousness, whose real name is greed.

If you enjoyed the previous book in this mystery series, you will enjoy this one just as much. Even though this is a fictional account of life in the early days of America, it has enough fact that it can tell us a little about the life of the Iroquois and their beliefs, as well as a bit of how other bands of Indians lived.

Eliot Pattison writes in a joyous, lyrical manner that is pure pleasure to read and I do hope that he has another mystery of Colonial America coming to us soon.
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