Rapscallion by James McGee
Review by Jacqui Slaney
This is the description:
Matthew Hawkwood, ex-soldier turned Bow Street Runner, goes undercover to hunt down smugglers and traitors at the height of the Napoleonic Wars in this thrilling follow-up to Ratcatcher.
For a French prisoner of war, there is only one fate worse than the gallows: the hulks. Former man-o'-wars now converted to prison ships, their fearsome reputation guarantees a sentence served in the most dreadful conditions.
Few survive. Escape, it is said, is impossible.
Yet reports persist of a sinister smuggling operation within this brutal world – and the Royal Navy is worried enough to send two of its officers to investigate.
However, when they disappear without trace, the Navy turns in desperation to Bow Street for help. It is time to send in a man as dangerous as the prey. It is time to send in Hawkwood…
In this book, Hawkwood has to deal with the French prisoners of war on the dreaded prison ships or ‘Hulks’. He goes undercover as a prisoner following the disappearance of two naval officers who have been sent to the hulks to investigate smuggling, one of whom is found drowned.
Through the vivid imagery of the writing, the reader gets an image of the state that the prisoners had to live in. You can almost smell the stench of the men and the ships, and within a short time, Hawkwood is fighting for his life.
The plot is excellent and the pace of the writing is fast and gripping. The story line is brutal; this is not a story for the faint hearted, though not as gruesome as Resurrectionist is.
The characters are all strong and believable and I particularly liked Mrs Flynn and the friendship that is developed between Hawkwood and one of the French prisoners Lasseur. Hawkwood is as good ever; it is refreshing to have a hero that is as ruthless as those he comes across.
There are reviews that say that this book is the weakest of the three and that it takes a while for the story to get going, I did not find that at all. The focus of the plot does change slightly as the story develops but I did not find this distracting or a let down. I found that this story matter grips you from the beginning and though it is obvious that the author knows his period history well, you do not feel that you are reading a factual historical novel.
Through the three books, I have found the writing get better and better, with Hawkwood developing strongly so am looking forward to the next instalment in this series.
10 out of 10