The Cavalier Spy
The second in O’Connell’s adventure series (after The Patriot Spy, 2012) begins late in 1776, with Lt. Gen. George Washington confronting a recalcitrant Congress while his troops face superior British strength. To keep losses to a minimum before winter closes in, Washington depends on information provided by a growing network of spies.
One of these is Lt. Jeremiah Creed, a young Irishman with a checkered past. Washington’s staff has doubts about Creed’s trustworthiness, but the general decides to takes a chance and send the bright, young man into New Jersey. The search for information expands, leading Creed and his small band into New York City. When fire breaks out (ultimately destroying a third of the city), Creed’s quick thinking plays directly into Washington’s strategy.
In order to operate undetected, Creed develops a modus operandi for the team. By adapting different personalities and disguises, his men pass as locals when they encounter British troops. The information they glean while deep in British-held territory proves invaluable. And as Washington’s confidence in Creed grows, the general gives him increasingly difficult assignments, which will be detailed in subsequent volumes.
It will take a dedicated reader to consume so many chapters heavy with detail about Creed’s work undercover. Flashbacks to Creed’s earlier life provide relief tempered with confusion—is Creed guilty of murder or not?—which, like the awkward love scenes and overuse of dialogue, could be fixed by a good editor. When it comes to action, however, The Cavalier Spy rings with authenticity.