The Turncoat’s Widow: A Revolutionary War Mystery

Written by Mally Becker
Review by Waheed Rabbani

In 1779, aboard a British prison ship anchored near Brooklyn, a prisoner named Philip Parcell is tortured and killed. He had refused to divulge the whereabouts of a list of names of informants to the British. However, Philip manages to ask a fellow prisoner, Daniel, to contact his wife, Rebecca, who knows of the list, and sell it to General Washington. In Morristown, Rebecca is having difficulty holding onto her farm, for the townsfolk want to confiscate it, believing she betrayed Philip to the British. Daniel escapes and tries to help Rebecca. Fortunately, General Washington arrives and, knowing the truth about Philip, offers to let Rebecca keep her farm. However, he wants Rebecca to locate the list and travel with Daniel on a spy mission to British-held New York City. Rebecca has no option but to acquiesce and accepts the passport for the journey. Rebecca and Daniel risk their lives to uncover a plot that threatens the new nation’s future and inform General Washington.

Becker came upon the idea for her debut novel while volunteering at the Morristown National Historical Park. She discovered that one needed a passport to travel between New Jersey and New York City during the Revolutionary War. The novel is carefully researched and constructed, which keeps readers intrigued with the mystery of the list of turncoats and interested in the historical events. The realistic period details, like the passports, and inclusion of real-life characters such as General Washington make the era come alive. However, the large cast of secondary characters adds complexity. Furthermore, the introduction of a budding romance between Rebecca and Daniel helps keep the narrative stimulating.