Eliot Pattison’s “Bone Rattler”/”Duncan McCallum” series just got another jaw-dropping installment with publication of “Blood of the Oak” by Counterpoint Press. Eliot Pattison’s novels have a way of waking the reader up to the grim realities of what really went on during Colonial American times, both the heroic and the barbaric.
There’s a lot of graphic detail about the treatment of Black and Indian slaves and white indentured servants in the colonial south during the 1760’s in this book. There’s also a lot of factual history about the Stamp Tax Act and the ramifications of this attempt to make colonists pay taxes for finished products of every sort while receiving scant compensation for the raw materials that the colonies shipped back to England. “Blood of the Oak” vividly describes how the stage was set for the Revolutionary War and also poignantly describes how the Iroquois and other Indian tribes were wiped out by a combination of settler incursions onto Indian land, war, disease and enslavement of Indian people. At the end of the book we see the Iroquois’ female spiritual leader and her most trusted chiefs take the tribes’ idols deeper into the wilderness in a futile effort to get away from death and destruction at white men’s hands.
Not every reader will be able to stomach the violence in “Blood of the Oak.” Those who stick with it will be rewarded with a visceral understanding of that critical period of Colonial history between the French and Indian Wars and the Revolutionary War. Particularly interesting is the description of how the Sons of Liberty were able to communicate with each other to eventually unite a disparate group of colonies using a complex system of codes and a range rider system that included both colonists and Iroquois allies.
Despite the extremely graphic violence in this book, it is another masterpiece of America historic fiction and a really bone-rattling mystery thriller. It will be impossible to romanticize Colonial history again after this excellent, accurately portrayed work of historical fiction.
(Reviewed from a supplied pre-pub review copy.)