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The Constable's Tale
     

The Constable's Tale

5.0 3
by Donald Smith
 

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Set in a tumultuous period that helped to forge a nation, a riveting mystery that takes a volunteer constable through the wilds of colonial North Carolina to track down a shadowy killer.

When a traveling peddler discovers the murder of a farm family in colonial North Carolina whose bodies have been left in bizarre positions, circumstances point to an Indian

Overview

Set in a tumultuous period that helped to forge a nation, a riveting mystery that takes a volunteer constable through the wilds of colonial North Carolina to track down a shadowy killer.

When a traveling peddler discovers the murder of a farm family in colonial North Carolina whose bodies have been left in bizarre positions, circumstances point to an Indian attack. But Harry Woodyard, a young planter who is the volunteer constable of Craven County during a period in America's past when there was no professional police force, finds clues that seem to indicate otherwise. The county establishment wants to blame the crime on a former inhabitant, an elderly Indian who has suddenly reappeared in the vicinity like an old ghost. But he is a person to whom Harry owes much.

Defying the authorities, Harry goes off on his own to find the real killer. His investigation takes him up the Atlantic seacoast and turns into a perilous hunt for even bigger quarry that could affect the future of Britain in the American continent.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
Donald Smith's exceptional first novel, The Constable's Tale, is a revelatory look at colonial America…In unmasking a villain, the investigation…provides insights into the surprisingly worldly ways of our colonial ancestors.
Publishers Weekly
★ 07/13/2015
Fans of Eliot Pattison’s Bone Rattler series (Soul of the Fire, etc.) will relish Smith’s impressive debut, set in 1759. Royal constable Harry Woodyard looks into a multiple murder at a plantation in North Carolina’s Craven County. Someone shot nine-year-old Andrew Campbell in a field, then rested the boy’s head on a pillow and put a sprig of rosemary under his nose. Andrew’s parents were slain in the house, their bodies also posed; only the baby was left alive. Most people believe that Indians were responsible, though the sparing of the infant’s life is uncharacteristic of similar Indian massacres. When Comet Elijah, a Tuscarora Indian and mentor to Harry, turns up in the vicinity, he’s arrested. Convinced of Comet Elijah’s innocence, Harry undertakes a perilous quest for the truth, which he believes is connected to a Masonic medal he found under the Campbell baby’s crib. Smith balances historical detail and a twisty whodunit plot like a veteran. Agent: Jennifer Unter, Unter Agency. (Sept.)
Booklist
“Through detailed descriptions of characters and setting, readers can easily imagine early American life and its shifting governance. Compares well with the Bone
Rattler series by Eliot Pattison or the Smithyman saga by David More.”
John Smolens
“A yarn that combines the hue and scope of James Fenimore Cooper with the taut suspense of Elmore
Leonard.”
Barbara Corrado Pope
“Rich with historical details and surprising turns, The Constable’s Tale, a story of murder, love and loyalty, is an outstanding debut.”
Gary Schanbacher
“In The Constable’s Tale, Donald Smith delivers a captivating blend of political intrigue, mystery, and romance set during the closing months of the French and Indian War. Read it for its suspense, for its many surprises, and for its insight into early American colonial life. But read it foremost because Smith’s debut novel is a fast-paced romp, a beautifully spun tale.”
Gary Inbinder
“With its intrepid detective, skillful plotting, colorful characters, action and rich period detail, Donald Smith's novel is sure to please fans of historical mystery.”
Bob Van Laerhoven
“Historical fiction at its best. I have read many books about America’s history, but this blood-curdling murder-mystery, set in 18th century North-Carolina, with America at the brink of the Revolutionary War, taught me a lot. Stylish, exciting, and packed with historical insight.”
Edgar and Shamus Award-winning author James W. Hall
“The Constable’s Tale is the best first novel I’ve read in a long while. Lyrical and tough and suspenseful and set in a time and place that’s been little explored in fiction, especially detective fiction, but which Donald Smith brings alive with clarity and vibrancy and a muscular authority. A first-rate novel.”
New York Times Book Review
“Donald
Smith’s exceptional first novel is a revelatory look at colonial America. In unmasking a villain, the investigation also provides insights into the surprisingly worldly ways of our colonial ancestors.”
Historical Novels Review
“Rich in historical details and character. Smith’s writing is well-paced, and his attention to historical detail is such that it does not overwhelm the reader,
but still brings colonial America alive.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Set in colonial North Carolina with a cast of authentic and endearing characters,
including Harry Woodyard, a tobacco planter and the volunteer constable of
Craven County, and his outspoken Welsh wife, Toby. Harry is a wonderful blend of naiveté and no-nonsense, compassion and reason, and his tale's an intriguing one.”
Kirkus Reviews
2015-10-06
Being named Royal Constable and "leaving behind for good the brawlers and pranksters and wenchers he previously had kept company with" gives young North Carolina planter Harry Woodyard a chance to advance in Craven County society during the French and Indian War. What Harry can't suspect is that his duties will fetch him up on the Plains of Abraham as British Gen. Wolfe takes Quebec. Smith's spun a rollicking good yarn in his debut novel. Harry's pursuing the murderer of a local plantation family, heading over the Colonial border to Williamsburg, then Annapolis and Boston, and finally to the Quebec army camp. Comet Elijah, last of the fearsome Tuscarora tribe, has been jailed as the killer. It was Comet Elijah and Natty, Harry's grandfather, who raised the boy, teaching him woodcraft and the ways of the world. Harry's certain his friend isn't guilty, especially since he found an inscribed Masonic pin at the murder scene. Smith's sketches of life in 1759 are superb: "small beer" for breakfast, rogues on the post road, and notes on how plantations flourished behind the isolating Outer Banks. Harry's left his new wife, Toby with the "pretty brown eyes," waiting in North Carolina, and his letters home—"My deareft wife, I pray thif letter finds you & ye Plantation well"—provide another window into Colonial life. Harry meets Washington—"We are all proud of our George for his conduct at Monongahela"—and teenage Jefferson and learns why his first love, Maddie, daughter of New Bern's chief justice, threw him over for a Virginia plantation scion, Richard Ayerdale. Seesawing between ambition and inferiority, Harry meets governors, generals, and aristocracy, relying on his treasured tome, Rules of Civilty & Decent Behaviour for guidance. Top-notch historical fiction, authentic in character and setting, laced with a mystery and a bit of international intrigue, right up to the whipsaw conclusion.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781531871406
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
09/13/2016
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Donald Smith is a Washington, D.C.-based writer. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune. He was executive co-producer of Radio Expeditions, the DuPont Award-winning National Geographic-National Public Radio production heard on NPR's Morning Edition, and White House correspondent for Congressional Quarterly. See his website for more information:www.donaldsmith.net.

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The Constable's Tale 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
DarkRavenDH More than 1 year ago
The Constable’s Tale by Donald Smith New Bern, North Carolina, early 1700’s, around the time of the French and Indian War. A man looking to open a Tinsmith’s shop in the town of New Bern in the North Carolina Colony happens upon a murder as he nears the town. At the small plantation of the Campbell family, Edward Campbell, his wife Anne, and their adopted son Andrew, lie murdered; the bodies posed afterwards. Oddly enough the Campbell’s infant child is left alive. Craven County Royal Constable James Henry Woodyard is in charge of the investigation. At first glance, the culprit or culprits appear to have been Native American. But the good Constable finds an expensive-looking Masonic medal and a map of Pamlico Sound under the baby’s crib. Now, he is not so sure it was a Native American. Meanwhile an old Native American named Comet Elijah, who had help raise Woodyard, is discovered near the town and arrested for the murder. Woodyard cannot believe his old friend is guilty. He receives permission to pursue the Masonic Medal and leaves for Williamsburg, Virginia Colony to visit metal smiths. Eventually the search for the owner of the Masonic Medal will send Constable Woodyard on a long chase and involves matters that could threaten Colonial America. The action is quick paced and smooth as the venue changes from New Bern to Williamsburg to Philadelphia to Boston and on to the front battle lines in Quebec. There are dangers and strange encounters along the way. And an extra twist at the end that is nothing short of a Masterpiece! This was my first adventure with Constable Woodyard but I sincerely hope it won’t be the last. Mr. Donald Smith, my hat is off to you, Sir! Definitely five stars out of five! Quoth the Raven…
VicG More than 1 year ago
Donald Smith in his new book, “The Constable’s Tale” published by Pegasus Books LLC gives us to A Novel of Colonial America. From the back cover: Set in a tumultuous period that helped to forge a nation, a riveting mystery that takes a volunteer constable through the wilds of colonial North Carolina to track down a shadowy killer When a traveling peddler discovers the murder of a farm family in colonial North Carolina whose bodies have been left in bizarre positions, circumstances point to an Indian attack. But Harry Woodyard, a young planter who is the volunteer constable of Craven County during a period in America’s past when there was no professional police force, finds clues that seem to indicate otherwise. The county establishment wants to blame the crime on a former inhabitant, an elderly Indian who has suddenly reappeared in the vicinity like an old ghost. But he is a person to whom Harry owes much. Defying the authorities, Harry goes off on his own to find the real killer. His investigation takes him up the Atlantic seacoast and turns into a hunt for even bigger quarry and more adventure then he ever dreamed possible. During his search for the truth about the murders, Harry learns that the eyes are not always to be trusted and people are not always as they seem. I have never read a historical fiction story that took place in the late 1700s during the French and Indian War before. I had no idea of how a murder mystery set place then and there would work so I was intrigued as it seemed like a clever idea. Wow, let me assure you this is more than clever and it works so brilliantly. Royal Constable James Henry Woodyard is a regular person who happens to be a planter and then a part-time constable. He is a magnificent character and Mr. Smith builds him in such a manner that you believe his stubbornness as he sets off to find the real killer. “The Constable’s Tale” grabs you with the storyline and keeps you flipping pages as fast as possible. Don’t start this book late at night because you are going to want to finish it before you go to bed. A truly intriguing suspenseful thriller. I truly hope that Mr. Smith will give us more adventure with Royal Constable James Henry Woodyard. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pegasus Books LLC. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
PegGlover More than 1 year ago
The Constable’s Tale is a compelling and meticulously crafted historical fiction novel. Donald Smith crafts this eighteen-century story with numerous sharp and authentic details. I felt as if I was living during the 1700’s in early America instead of just reading about it. Harry Woodyard, the Constable of Craven County in North Carolina, was troubled by the fact that the Indian, Comet Elijah, was the prime suspect in the murder of a local family, and jailed. Harry believed that the Indian, who had mentored him as a child, couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with such brutality. To track down the killer, though, Harry knew that he would have to leave Craven County without the judge’s consent. The consequences, of taking such an action, would probably cost him his position as Constable. He was also aware that proving Comet Elijah’s innocence could take months, which was something that the elderly Indian just didn’t have. Harry left Craven County and his wife on what he hoped would not end up being just a wild goose chase. The clues led Harry to travel to Virginia first, Boston second, and then finally up to Quebec Canada where the French and Indian War was in full force. The Constable’s Tale is a story of political intrigue, espionage, and war, as well as a story of love, betrayal and a bit of romance. The dialogue and characters in this book are both realistic and engaging. There wasn’t a boring page in the entire novel. I highly recommend reading The Constable’s Tale. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.