cover image The Blooding

The Blooding

James McGee. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-60598-810-8

Matthew Hawkwood’s heartbreaking past meets his hair-raising present in McGee’s splendid fifth Regency thriller (after 2014’s Rebellion). In 1812, chance takes Hawkwood, a former Bow Street Runner, to northeastern America, a dangerous place for a British operative given the fledgling nation’s war with England. After he frees his friend, fellow British agent Maj. Douglas Lawrence, from a military prison near Albany, N.Y., the pair seek Canada’s safety. They narrowly escape encounters with American soldiers, Oneida warriors, and other perils only to discover evidence of an American plan to invade Canada. Its success would mean disaster for the Crown, so Hawkwood and Lawrence must warn British authorities in time. Alternating segments depict Hawkwood’s traumatic childhood in New York’s Mohawk Valley, where the 12-year-old formed a transformative bond with the Mohawk chief Tewanias. Freshly illuminating Hawkwood’s character, these boyhood glimpses are moving. Balancing moments of poignancy with swashbuckling action, historical interest, powerful suspense, and wry wit, McGee delivers all the delights of a classic adventure story. Agent: Jennifer Weitz, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (July)