Kevin Grote imbues this tale set in the mid-1700s with plenty of atmosphere, timely dialog, devious citizens, and the textures of lower-class England.  It is a story of the days of highwaymen, thievery, and the fragile scales of justice.   A highwayman and his gang enjoy episodes of well-crafted robbery, and a suspenseful undercover investigation. The conclusion to the first level plotline is expected but memorable nonetheless.

While the shifts in tense are sudden and unnerving, as are the proofreading errors, the battle scenes and high action are engaging. At first I wasn’t sure if this was intended as a film or a novel.  The author utilizes scene description and staccato plot activity, which left me distanced, and I wondered when the story would actually begin.  I’m still wondering who the central character is, as there are several points of view with the sheriff and vicar both acting as the Greek Chorus relaying offstage battlefield scenes. With my attention on clever scene mixing and an entertaining fight between the squire and a blacksmith, I forgot for a moment that there was no main character, too many points of view, and an unidentifiable central conflict.

The atmosphere and historical technicalities are strong, but the essence of good character development has yet to be realized. As this is the first of a trilogy, I look forward to his second with the hope of character focus and reduced points of view.

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