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The Constable's Tale: A Novel of Colonial…

The Constable's Tale: A Novel of Colonial America

by Donald Smith

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I love reading stories set in this time period, before the Revolutionary War but this is the first I have read that starts in New Bern, North Carolina. Since there is no such thing as a police force, volunteers take on a position that they hold for a certain time period. Harry Woodyard is the volunteer constable when a family is found murdered, a father, mother and son, though the baby is left alive. Two items are left at the crime scene and identifying these items and clearing the name of a good friend will take Harry from his small farm and his young wife. His journey will take him to Boston and eventually further North right in the midst of the battle between the English and the French for Québec.

More a historical period piece than a straightforward mystery, the atmosphere, details of life in the colonies and the characters are all authentically portrayed. The political intrigues, men of means and their aspirations, traitors and spies, soldiers in battle, all make this a captivating read. The ending throws quite a twist at the reader, one I never saw coming. Quite a good book set during a very interesting time period. ( )
  Beamis12 | Nov 3, 2015 |
not a memorable story, but okay. reviewed for Booklist. ( )
  jenzbaker | Oct 25, 2015 |
It is the year 1759 and there has been a multiple murder on a plantation in Craven County, North Carolina. . A small boy and his parents were slain, then posed, but the baby was spared. Pretty much everyone is convinced it must have been an Indian attack, everyone but Royal Constable James Henry Woodyard who is not so sure. When his friend and mentor Comet Elijah, a member of the Tuscorora tribe, is found in the vicinity of the crime, he is arrested. Woodyard is convinced he is innocent. He has found a medal with a Masonic crest on it and is sure it must belong to the real perpetrator of the crime. He sets out on a long and perilous journey to prove Elijah’s innocence across several of the American colonies and north to Quebec into the camps of both Generals Montcalme and Wolfe and eventually into the middle of the battle that would decide the fate of a nation on the Plains of Abraham.

The Constable’s Table, the debut novel by author Donald Smith, is a fascinating combination of historical details about a period of history that is rarely seen in fiction and a cracking good mystery. Harry is a very likeable character, smart, just, curious but tough, and a mean hand with a tomahawk, one of the many skills he learned from Elijah when he was a boy. He is a small plantation owner and volunteer constable but is endeavouring to raise his status. Each chapter is headed by a quote from a book called Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation, ‘[R]ooted in some ancient Italian court, later written out by an elderly Frenchman…translated into English’ (a real book, by the way)which Henry had had to learn as a boy and which he tries to live by. He doesn’t always do the right thing but he tries.

Smith manages to keep the details of colonial life and the dialogue true to the period while moving the story along at a galloping pace. Definitely a very enjoyable read, full of interesting history, characters, and plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader’s attention throughout. ( )
  lostinalibrary | Sep 12, 2015 |
I have to start by saying I am a fan of the time period this book covers which may influence my feelings about it.

This story takes place during the French and Indian War in the late 1750s. The main character, Harry Woodyard, is a small plantation owner and voluntary constable who is trying to raise his station in life. Three members of a family are murdered and when blame falls on an old Indian who helped raise Harry, he sets out to try and clear his name.

I love the stops in the various places he visited it and the historical people he met. I thought the author did a great job there. I also liked all the little details on how life was like back then. My main criticism was I thought we got a few too many well that was convenient for the plot moments to keep the story moving. I still quite enjoyed it and was not expecting the twists. All in all a fun read and I hope it is not the last we see of Mr. Woodyard. ( )
  JJbooklvr | Jun 29, 2015 |
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