cover image Dreams of Glory

Dreams of Glory

Thomas Fleming. Forge, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-312-87743-9

Entertaining in all of the ways readers have come to expect, the prolific Fleming's (The Officers' Wives; Remember the Morning; etc.) newest historical fiction concerns a British scheme to kidnap George Washington. It's the winter of 1780, and Washington's near-mutinous rebel army is stationed in Morristown, N.J., with the Brits across the Hudson. Both sides engage in ""intelligence"" work; indeed, it seems everyone in Fleming's large cast of characters is a turncoat. When Caesar Muzzey, a slave owned by Flora Kuyper and secret courier for the Redcoats, turns up dead in the American camp, Congressman Hugh Stapleton and Chaplain Caleb Chandler become enmeshed in espionage. Caleb wants justice for the dead slave and begins snooping around; Hugh is uninterested until he meets Flora, a beautiful seductress in the pay of the Brits. Even the meek Yankee chaplain falls in love, though he is coerced by his American superiors into lying to Flora and working with her boss, English spymaster and prospective Washington-kidnapper Walter Beckford, thus becoming an unlikely double agent. A literally explosive twist at the end shows exactly where each character's true loyalties lie. Readers will have no trouble overlooking some inflated writing in favor of the resourceful plot and well-drawn historical figures. It's been two years since Fleming has produced a straightforward historical novel (in the interim, he has authored Hours of Gladness, a contemporary thriller, and Duel, a popular history of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr), and his fans will cheer his return to the genre. (Dec.)