A Storm Before the War: A Harvey & McCrary Adventure

Written by Phillip Otts
Review by Alice Cochran

A freedman, Harvey works for Hank McCrary as the servant and traveling companion of McCrary’s son, Martin. Unknown to Martin, he and Harvey are half-brothers and Harvey has bigger ambitions than being a servant for the rest of his life. Harvey is a spy—one who is determined to end slavery in America, and if possible, prevent the Civil War. To learn the way of the business world, Martin is traveling to different countries on errands for his father’s cotton plantation. Harvey is in charge of keeping Martin safe, carrying the trunks, and finding them both reputable ladies of the night. When tragedy strikes on the journey back to America, and both men find themselves shipwrecked and stranded as possible fish food, the adventure of the novel heats up. This adventure stretches from Bermuda to Britain and entangles multiple espionage plots, interpersonal strife and, of course, prostitutes.

A Storm Before the War is a thrilling adventure that engages tools of intricate storytelling and complex relationship development between brothers. Thoroughly explored descriptions and multifaceted character backgrounds aid in the artful depiction of this tale of brotherhood. Otts’ novel has a strong plot with even stronger heroes. This book was a fun read, and I anxiously await the sequel where the dynamic duo makes a reappearance. There is no war within my judgment; I recommend this book.