Of Honest Fame

Written by M.M. Bennetts
Review by Janet Williamson

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, this story concerns the secretive Boy Tirrell, a talented child with a phenomenal memory, who is employed by Lord Castlereagh as an espionage agent. After escaping from an attic prison in Paris, Boy returns to England where he is brutally attacked by one John Brown, who is systematically killing English agents.

The Marquis Dunphail of Abriachan, a Jacobite, rescues the boy and returns him to London. From Boy’s reports, Castlereagh suspects that the French Secret Service is behind the attacks and is regularly receiving information from an informant. He orders Captain George Shuster and Thomas Jesuadon to find the traitors and stop Brown.

Castlereagh sends Shuster to investigate Dunphail, and while in Edinburgh he is captivated by Ailie, Dunphail’s relative. Castlereagh blackmails Dunphail into educating and introducing Boy into polite society. While he is being taught to ride, shoot and gamble, Shuster’s and Jesuadon’s enquiries lead them to suspect George Waley, Lord Wilmot’s lover, who visits France frequently. Wilmot’s abused wife appeals to Jesuadon for help and he falls in love with her as he takes her to his aunt’s home for her own safety, and acquires a personal and a professional reason for denouncing Wilmot.

After finding evidence of Wilmot’s guilt, Boy disappears, intent on trailing Bonaparte’s Grande Armée as it pushes towards Russia, leaving dead and dying French troops in its wake.

Boy returns to report to Castlereagh, but is intercepted and wounded by Brown. Boy is nursed back to health after revealing his findings, but with his own secret kept safe.

I enjoyed this but would have appreciated a glossary of slang.