The Patterer


London in 1765 is a great place to make a living, especially if you have quick wits and a golden tongue. Leeds Merriweather has both in abundance. He uses his patter—a titillating summary of the day’s events—to sell newspapers in the streets, but yearns to a higher calling. Leeds assembles a team to read—nay, to perform—the news at the Tamed Shrew Tavern, and also provide a crowd to buy the tavern’s ale. The nightly “live news performance” soon fills both the Tamed Shrew’s coffers and Merriweather’s pockets. Then, a dalliance with the Lady Jasper provides Leeds with a shocking news item about the royal family. Revealing it could mean trouble, but the scandal is too good to resist…

Larry Brill’s The Patterer is a tongue-in-cheek rampage through Georgian London, complete with Benjamin Franklin and Russian spies at the Moose and Squirrel. Brill speaks of the patterer’s life with authority, for he was a TV news anchor for 25 years before turning his hand to fiction. Most historical novelists dread anachronisms, but Brill embraces them with his newscast team of patterers hired for their looks, sketch artists, actors who reproduce boxing matches for the crowd, and Doppler the weather dog. I had a lot of fun with The Patterer, and so will anyone looking for a hilarious read.

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






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