Hawkwood

James McGee, Author
James McGee. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (416p) ISBN 978-1-60598-368-4
Paperback - 409 pages - 978-1-60598-433-9
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Action sequences propel McGee’s rousing first of a Regency England crime series, originally published in the U.K. as Ratcatcher. When highwaymen attack a coach in a rural part of Camberwell, the villains shoot an admiralty courier dead, then cut off the courier’s hand to seize a dispatch pouch secured by a chain to the man’s wrist. Chief magistrate James Read assigns Capt. Matthew Hawkwood, an ex-army sniper now employed as a Bow Street Runner, to identify the criminals, though Read keeps Hawkwood ignorant of the stolen pouch’s contents, which are vital to the realm’s safety. Vivid and moving descriptions of the squalid areas of London more than make up for some familiar story elements, including dubious underworld allies and an attractive woman whom Hawkwood rescues from some lascivious noblemen. While the whodunit aspect is less cerebral than in the works of Bruce Alexander, historical thriller fans will look forward to the sequels. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean Naggar Agency. (May)
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