Written by Philip Yorke
Review by Cindy Vallar

Guilt and vengeance prevent Captain Francis Hacker from finding solace from God after his daughters’ murders. As the second year of civil war drags into a third, he struggles with the incongruity of faith and war. Despite his desire to lead a godly life, situations arise over which he has no control and cause him to stray far from that path.

Oliver Cromwell’s intervention inadvertently sets him on a more righteous path. He wants Francis to ingratiate himself with the leader of the Midland Association forces. Gaining Lord Grey’s trust is unlikely, but the Midlands is too valuable to allow the Royalists to gain control there. Yet discord between him and the leaders of Leicester make the city too enticing a target—one that could spell doom for the Parliamentarians. Combined with dissension within the ranks of the Parliamentarians, rumors of a plot to kill Cromwell, sightings of the murderer, and the imprisonment of two people dear to him, Francis unveils webs of intrigue that are far more treacherous, duplicitous, and devious than he ever suspects.

This second book in the Hacker Chronicles opens in 1644 at the battle of Marston Moor and ends in 1646 after several crucial victories for Cromwell’s New Model Army. Yorke ably demonstrates the irrevocable physical, mental, and spiritual wounds war inflicts on soldiers. The subtlety of a few clues may cause them to be missed, while repetitious reminders of the murders and Francis’s torture may intrude, but readers who persist are rewarded with a tale as intricately interlaced as a jigsaw puzzle. When redemption comes, Yorke masterfully crafts a solution that prevents characters from violating who they are and what they believe. At story’s end, readers will feel compelled to read Regicide, the next title in the series.