Blood of the Oak

Written by Eliot Pattison
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In the spring of 1765, the small community of Edentown, New York, led by Sarah Ramsey, is a quiet town segregated from colonial strife and struggle. Her indentured servant, Duncan McCallum, known as the Death Speaker, has the ability to heal the sick and injured. He has a father-son relationship with Conawago, an elder of the Nupmuc tribe. When the masks of Blooddancer, also known as Trickster, are stolen, Duncan is called upon to retrieve them and, through a message received from a friend, save the lives of 19 men who are marked for death.

Duncan and Conawago proceed down the Susquehanna River, accompanied by a young French girl named Analie. They discover the deaths of several people along the way, including community leader Jessica Ross. Duncan learns that the trail leads to “runners” who transmit messages from New York City and Philadelphia to nearby communities in northern New York, describing the anger of the colonists towards British taxation. Duncan discovers the presence of an enemy cartel known as the Kracken Club, who may be responsible for the killings.

This is both a mystery story (who is killing the runners?) and a historical novel of the early American Revolution. The fourth entry in the Bone Rattler series, this stand-alone novel is fast-paced with loads of action and suspense. Duncan McCallum and the supporting cast are well-formed and credible for the time period, and they provide an excellent backdrop to this exciting era of American history. Well-researched, the novel presents aspects of the early colonial experience that are little discussed outside the Northeast. I highly recommend this novel and look forward to future books from this author.