Thursday, January 13, 2022

Book Review: The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker (Revolutionary War Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, characters, setting
Cons: The romance, while good, felt cliched
The Bottom Line:
Spying during war
Plot and characters are great
Strong start to series



Spies and Mystery During the Revolutionary War

I have always been fascinated by the Revolutionary War period of American history.  While I’ve been reading more historical mysteries, I haven’t found too many set during those years.  When The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker crossed my path, I immediately knew I had to read it because it was set then.  And I really enjoyed it.

The book opens in 1780, six months after Rebecca Parcell’s husband, Philip, died aboard a British prison ship.  Their marriage had been an arranged marriage, and Rebecca hasn’t exactly been mourning Philip’s death.  However, the rumors in Morristown are beginning to say that Rebecca was the one who turned her husband over to the British, and Rebecca is finding herself in danger as a result.

That’s why, when General Washington approaches Rebecca with an offer, she takes him up on it.  It turns out that Philip was a man of opportunity, willing to work for whichever side would offer him more money.  When he died, Philip had a list of spies and Washington wants that list as well as information on who Philip was passing messages to for the British.  To find that out, Rebecca must travel to British occupied New York City.  Washington sends her off with Daniel Alloway, a man who escaped from the same ship where Philip died and who was among the last to talk to Philip.  Will this unlikely pair be able to learn anything?

This book is just outside of the cozy mysteries I typically read.  While there isn’t any language, there is a bit more violence, and the romance is a little stronger than in a typical cozy.  As long as you know that going in, you’ll be fine.

The romance was the weakest part of the book for me. Don’t misunderstand, I liked both Rebecca and Daniel, and I was rooting for them to get together.  I just felt like that particular sub-plot was more filled with cliches than the rest of the book.

But that’s a minor complaint.  The main plot was strong with plenty of twists to keep me engaged.  The further along I got into the book, the more I was drawn into the action and the web that Rebecca and Daniel were trying to untangle.  The last 50 pages flew by in a rush as I had to know what was going to happen to them next.

I keep talking about both Rebecca and Daniel for a reason.  They are both featured prominently in the book and both bring something to the solution.  We even get scenes from both of their points of view, and it was always easy to follow when we were switching.

While they were both strong characters, they led a cast of strong characters.  I especially appreciated how the fictional characters interacted flawlessly with the real people in the book.  Unlike some historical mysteries that I read where the characters are mostly just in the historical setting, this one did use real people and the plot felt like it could be a little know story in the war.

And the writing is wonderful.  This may be a debut novel, but you’d never know it.  I was always fully immersed in the story as I was reading.

I’m so glad I’ve found this series.  I can’t wait to see what Rebecca and Daniel get up to next.  If you want a good Revolutionary War mystery, pick up The Turncoat’s Widow.

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