The Devil Returns Twice As Deadly

Written by Fred Smith
Review by Jane Hill

Robert Williams, County Bailiff, travelled countless miles each year collecting unpaid taxes. Failing to comply with the law from those in debt left him free to obtain payment by whatever means he thought fit, including violence. He ransacks the property of a dead ferryman and, riding past a corpse hanging from a tree, he recalls the punishment for thieves. If his own thieving was discovered he too would end up on a gibbet.

Robert’s crime is discovered by the Squire and the Earl of Moreland, Lord of the Manor, who alert the Chief Constable. The Bow Street Runners see Robert in town and he and his beloved friend, Mary, a serving wench in a local tavern, flee to Cambridge. But Bounty hunters are on their tail.

With the help of Richard, a magistrate, who oversaw the work of the Chief Constable, Robert makes enquiries about the Earl and incriminating information is laid before a Parliamentary committee. As the Earl’s bloodshed and wickedness becomes known, Robert fears for his life and, with Mary, flees to Australia for three years… but revenge has to be taken.

The main character avoids the penalty for thieving by a series of contrived and somewhat preposterous plans on occasion, although the author’s research makes the story exciting. The book is short, possibly even with this edition in hardback, a little expensive at £12.99 for only 108 pages? It is only £3.99 in e-format though. The plot could be expanded and given added plausibility by providing greater background to the characters, but none the less an exciting, slightly tongue-in-cheek romp.