Bone Rattler


It’s the mid-18th century, and young Highland Scot Duncan McCallum is on a convict ship bound for the New World. Most of his family has been slaughtered, and he’s having a hard time with the yoke of British oppression himself. He witnesses a series of murders and suicides among his fellow passengers, and goes diving into the Atlantic to save another. When he reaches New York he finds the French and Indian War in full swing, and his troubles really begin.

Once indentured to empire builder Lord Ramsey as a tutor to his children and connected to his utopian community in the Hudson Valley, Duncan scrambles to understand both his new setting and the continuing series of murders that follow in his wake. The conflicts among armies both private and government-backed, allies and enemies among the Huron, the French and members of the Iroquois Confederacy, and the knowledge that his soldier brother has become a renegade, make a mix to try his soul.

A string of dead people haunts the story, at times seeming more alive than the survivors. Also hauntingly beautiful are the bonds between the cultures of the Scots Highlanders and the Indians, both “true skin” peoples. Dark, complex and compelling in mystery, historical, and spiritual considerations, the reader wonders along with Duncan whether the New World will see oppression extended or explode in a new burst of freedom.


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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award







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(US) 9781593761851