A Very Murdering Battle

Written by Edward Marston
Review by Neville Firman

This is the last of the Captain Rawson novels. The father of the hero, as followers of the series will know, was hanged after the Battle of Sedgemoor, having taken part in the Monmouth Rebellion against James II. The Duke of Marlborough, under whom he serves, had then been a commander of the royal forces. An engaging opening, but the theme of Rawson, the rebel’s son, is not carried forward in the later books, and as they have progressed, my own interest in the captain’s fortunes has waned somewhat. To be sure, in this last book all the right ingredients are there. The murderous battle of the title is Malplaquet. The portrait of Marlborough in this late stage of his career is good, as is that of Villars, the French commander. There is intrigue, there are good battle scenes, the comic, woman-hating Sergeant Welbeck is there and furthermore he finally finds his ladylove. In this book, our hero also has to decide whether to marry his Dutch fiancée, the passive and much too adoring Amalia Janssen. In short, it does what it says on the tin, but for me the heart seems to have gone out of Captain Rawson.