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The King's Beast: A Mystery of the American Revolution

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When Duncan McCallum is asked by Benjamin Franklin to retrieve an astonishing cache of fossils from the Kentucky wilderness, his excitement as a naturalist blinds him to his treacherous path. But as murderers stalk him Duncan discovers that the fossils of this American incognitum are not nearly as mysterious as the political intrigue driving his mission. The Sons of Libert When Duncan McCallum is asked by Benjamin Franklin to retrieve an astonishing cache of fossils from the Kentucky wilderness, his excitement as a naturalist blinds him to his treacherous path. But as murderers stalk him Duncan discovers that the fossils of this American incognitum are not nearly as mysterious as the political intrigue driving his mission. The Sons of Liberty insist, without explaining why, that the only way to keep the king from pursuing a bloody war with America is for Duncan to secretly deliver the fossils to Franklin in London. His journey becomes a nightmare of deceit and violence as he seeks the cryptic link between the bones and the king. Every layer that Duncan peels away invites new treachery by those obsessed with crushing American dissent. With each attempt on his life, Duncan questions the meaning of the liberty he and the Sons seek. His last desperate hope for survival, and the rescue of his aged native friend Conawago—imprisoned in Bedlam—requires the help of freed slaves, an aristocratic maiden, a band of street urchins, and the gods of his tribal allies.


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When Duncan McCallum is asked by Benjamin Franklin to retrieve an astonishing cache of fossils from the Kentucky wilderness, his excitement as a naturalist blinds him to his treacherous path. But as murderers stalk him Duncan discovers that the fossils of this American incognitum are not nearly as mysterious as the political intrigue driving his mission. The Sons of Libert When Duncan McCallum is asked by Benjamin Franklin to retrieve an astonishing cache of fossils from the Kentucky wilderness, his excitement as a naturalist blinds him to his treacherous path. But as murderers stalk him Duncan discovers that the fossils of this American incognitum are not nearly as mysterious as the political intrigue driving his mission. The Sons of Liberty insist, without explaining why, that the only way to keep the king from pursuing a bloody war with America is for Duncan to secretly deliver the fossils to Franklin in London. His journey becomes a nightmare of deceit and violence as he seeks the cryptic link between the bones and the king. Every layer that Duncan peels away invites new treachery by those obsessed with crushing American dissent. With each attempt on his life, Duncan questions the meaning of the liberty he and the Sons seek. His last desperate hope for survival, and the rescue of his aged native friend Conawago—imprisoned in Bedlam—requires the help of freed slaves, an aristocratic maiden, a band of street urchins, and the gods of his tribal allies.

30 review for The King's Beast: A Mystery of the American Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Seditious A remarkably immersive and compelling story, crafted with Eliot Pattison’s atmospheric style of vividly portraying historical fiction. Pattison provides fascinating historical detail which he weaves seamlessly into his storytelling to create an outstanding novel. A focal point of his novels is his ability to bring to life the wonderful landscape his stories inhabit. The New World in the American colonies was beginning to explore its resources with an increasing realisation that new idea Seditious A remarkably immersive and compelling story, crafted with Eliot Pattison’s atmospheric style of vividly portraying historical fiction. Pattison provides fascinating historical detail which he weaves seamlessly into his storytelling to create an outstanding novel. A focal point of his novels is his ability to bring to life the wonderful landscape his stories inhabit. The New World in the American colonies was beginning to explore its resources with an increasing realisation that new ideas and exciting possibilities lay ahead. The barriers to its own sense of worth were the controls from the English colonial power, and how taxes, materials and benefits flowed in one direction only. In 1769, as many covert activities around scientific knowhow, business trade and military forces from Britain and the colonies started gathering momentum, the bones of an ancient beast are discovered in a salt lick in Kentucky, on the Ohio River. As the bones of the Incognitum are unearthed under the behest from the Sons of Liberty and the watchful eyes of tribesmen, lethal forces from England want to prevent them being used as another example of American wealth and opportunity. The destination of the bones is London and to Benjamin Franklin, as he seeks to curry favour with King George III. There are forces around the king that want to prevent that happening, including those closest to him. Duncan McCallum is the main character in the novel, a Scottish highlander, a scholar, a soldier and a brother to the tribes. One of his close friends, Ezra, on the assignment with him is murdered and a letter is found shoved into his mouth that has been signed by Benjamin Franklin and contains the word ‘Covenant’. Duncan is sure the killers are ahead of them in a race up the river to Pittsburgh. With his companion, Ishmael, an Iroquois warrior, they now have an ordeal ahead of them to complete their mission for the Sons of Liberty and track the killers of their friend. The Shawnee chief Catchoka said to Duncan “ ‘The gods will follow the bones. No one can stop them now. They have great power. Lives will change.’ Duncan sensed no anger in his voice now, but rather something like pity. ‘They are old earth. You are new earth. You will suffer the consequences. You will die again and again.’ ” The King’s Beast is a beautifully written novel that captures the period with its political machinations and wonderfully diverse range of new and renowned characters. History marks Benjamin Franklin as an American founding father, a man of science, an inventor of electricity, and an important figure in the relationships between England and America. Pattison gives voice to the many Native American tribes, such as the Shawnee, Mohawk, Oneida and Iroquois, which is a wonderful element of the book. The prophetic visions and the ancestral attachments from the tribesmen offer mystical favour and a deep connection with nature. Eliot Pattison is a master of developing a sense of time and place and having read a few of his books now, I feel he operates in a league with very few others. Nothing is ever wasted as each scene and conversation is expertly woven into an exciting plot with mystery and suspense. There are so many intricate layers of plotting where deceit, misdirection and conspiracy keep this story enthralling from beginning to end. An easy decision to rate this book 5 stars and I highly recommend reading it. I would like to thank Eliot Pattison for providing me with a free copy in return for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    Another great entry in this historical mystery series. This one is set in 1769, as tensions between Britain and its North American colonies are beginning to rise. The beast of the title is a set of fossil bones that our series's hero, Duncan McCallum, retrieved in the Kentucky wilderness at the behest of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, who is in London, wants to use the gift of these ancient bones as a way to speak directly with King George III. Franklin's belief is that the king is a rational ruler Another great entry in this historical mystery series. This one is set in 1769, as tensions between Britain and its North American colonies are beginning to rise. The beast of the title is a set of fossil bones that our series's hero, Duncan McCallum, retrieved in the Kentucky wilderness at the behest of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, who is in London, wants to use the gift of these ancient bones as a way to speak directly with King George III. Franklin's belief is that the king is a rational ruler, who does not want war with his colonies; if only Franklin could speak with him, all can be smoothed over. It quickly becomes obvious to Duncan and his companions that there are many in the upper levels of British government who do not want that to happen. Just getting the bones back to Philadelphia was a dangerous journey. The voyage from Philadelphia to London was even more fraught. Once in London, the whole plot becomes becomes even more convoluted. Pattison had so many different plot threads going I was afraid he would never be able to weave them into a coherent whole. A tip of the hat to the author for a job well done. There are so many varied and fascinating historical tidbits scattered throughout the story: the Transit of Venus, the architecture of St Paul's Cathedral; Daniel Boone even makes a cameo appearance. As always, the author's Afterwords is essential reading. It was good to spend time with Duncan and the cast of continuing characters, especially Sarah Ramsey, Patrick Woolford, Conawago and Ishmael. Of course, it was a delight to spend time with Ben Franklin. I was even happy to 'boo' the return of Sarah's father, the #1 villain. Sigh, now to wait, wait, wait for the next book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bennett

    BLURB When Duncan McCallum is asked by Benjamin Franklin to retrieve an astonishing cache of fossils from the Kentucky wilderness, his excitement as a naturalist blinds him to his treacherous path. But as murderers stalk him Duncan discovers that the fossils of this American incognitum are not nearly as mysterious as the political intrigue driving his mission. The Sons of Liberty insist, without explaining why, that the only way to keep the king from pursuing a bloody war with America is for Dunc BLURB When Duncan McCallum is asked by Benjamin Franklin to retrieve an astonishing cache of fossils from the Kentucky wilderness, his excitement as a naturalist blinds him to his treacherous path. But as murderers stalk him Duncan discovers that the fossils of this American incognitum are not nearly as mysterious as the political intrigue driving his mission. The Sons of Liberty insist, without explaining why, that the only way to keep the king from pursuing a bloody war with America is for Duncan to secretly deliver the fossils to Franklin in London.  His journey becomes a nightmare of deceit and violence as he seeks the cryptic link between the bones and the king. Every layer that Duncan peels away invites new treachery by those obsessed with crushing American dissent. With each attempt on his life, Duncan questions the meaning of the liberty he and the Sons seek. His last desperate hope for survival, and the rescue of his aged native friend Conawago—imprisoned in Bedlam—requires the help of freed slaves, an aristocratic maiden, a band of street urchins, and the gods of his tribal allies. REVIEW A rousing tale of that politically turbulent period between The French & Indian War, and The Revolutionary War. Replete with characters who draw the reader into the drama; finely honed to reflect the time and place, full of the respective cultures they portray. The temerity of the British aristocracy; their seeming never ending condescending attitude to any colonial, even transplanted Englishmen, is on full display in this quest for dominance over anything that happens in the colonies. A secret mission for Ben Franklin sets Duncan on a emotionally charged road to unravel the mysteries thrust at him in often violent fashion. Loaded with the spiritual beliefs of the Native tribes, The King's Beast is also a detailed and well researched lesson on the cultures which had survived centuries before being "discovered", and the insurmountable odds against their continued existence.  Among the historical characters given life by the author, Franklin shines as a somewhat absent-minded, eccentric genius. His naivete is a refreshing look at a complicated man, though it does create more problems for Duncan to sort out. One of the main plots is the locating and rescuing the aged Nipmuc elder, Conawago. The difference in spiritual beliefs is highlighted in this quote from a young frontiersman, Daniel Boone, ""The tribes talk about the spirits in the trees and the gods in the forest." Boone looked upward as he spoke, into the limbs of the aged tree. "I heard a preacher once tell a warrior friend of mine that such talk is sacrilege, that there's no room in the Bible for such things. My friend said that's because the men who wrote his Bible lived in the desert" It is this spiritual void that Conawago has become entrapped and provides a most thrilling escape - a fitting example of the page turning effect this book has on the reader. This was my first venture into the Duncan McCallum tales, it won't be my last.  5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

  4. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    Eliot Pattison's books have always been densely packed, full of detail about unique cultural eras and places, with a large cast and frequent introspective musings by the author and by those characters. For me, Pattison's books have been eager but not quick reads, especially the Inspector Shan series. The Bone Rattler series, featuring Duncan McCallum, has been more accessible, if only because the cultural surroundings are familiar. Both series are extraordinary achievements. And, THE KING'S BEAST Eliot Pattison's books have always been densely packed, full of detail about unique cultural eras and places, with a large cast and frequent introspective musings by the author and by those characters. For me, Pattison's books have been eager but not quick reads, especially the Inspector Shan series. The Bone Rattler series, featuring Duncan McCallum, has been more accessible, if only because the cultural surroundings are familiar. Both series are extraordinary achievements. And, THE KING'S BEAST is the best of Pattison's many books, so the good is getting even better. This sixth iteration of the Bone Rattler series has more clarity and is quicker paced, while retaining the development of characters we now hold dear, the intricate plotting, and the re-construction of historical settings that are familiar enough to envelop us but distinct enough to unsettle. THE KING'S BEAST primarily occurs in London, though it begins with an intriguing trip down the Ohio River when that was the western frontier, a quick sojourn in Philadelphia and a trip across the Atlantic. Pattison is very good at presenting both the unsavory dirtiness of urban life in 1769 and the omnipresent threat of violence that peristed in the city. But that ugliness uplifted by the inspiring cast of Duncan's supporting characters, who may live on the edge but have real character and hopes. Almost makes Ismael appreciate urban life. Duncan's ad hoc team takes on the powers-that-be in London, and that is the central conflict in THE KING'S BEAST. That Duncan's fight both mirrors and becomes enmeshed in the larger, emerging, conflict between the colonies and Great Britain, simply adds depth. Yes, it may seem fantastic that an expat Highlander can take on aristocratic power, but it is also fantastic that disparate colonies came together to take on the greatest empire of the 18th century. One almost tangential note, Pattison is adept at expressing the cosmopolitan nature of London's denizens as the global economy emerges. The dockworkers, sailors, and tradesmen are more conversant about the broader world and much more comfortable with this diversity than the aristocracy. Another theme throughout is the thirst for knowledge of the natural world that emerges as a result of the growing interaction between parts of the world. As always, Pattison provides a satisfying conclusion t0 this book and sets the stage for Duncan's future adventures. There should be more Sarah in the next book and that will be good. I can hardly wait. Plopped in the midst of enemies everywhere, Duncan's plan works out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    A great book, a great series & a great author! A great book, a great series & a great author!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    In 1769, Benjamin Franklin has asked Duncan McCallum, an exiled from Scotsman, to help retrieve fossil bones from a bog in the Kentucky wilderness. When one of the team is found dead amongst the fossils, Duncan determines it was murder. He vows to find the murderers. The Sons of Liberty tell him the future of America lies in getting those fossil bones to Franklin in England. Someone, though, doesn’t want Duncan to succeed either at find the killer or of getting the bones to Franklin. Things heat In 1769, Benjamin Franklin has asked Duncan McCallum, an exiled from Scotsman, to help retrieve fossil bones from a bog in the Kentucky wilderness. When one of the team is found dead amongst the fossils, Duncan determines it was murder. He vows to find the murderers. The Sons of Liberty tell him the future of America lies in getting those fossil bones to Franklin in England. Someone, though, doesn’t want Duncan to succeed either at find the killer or of getting the bones to Franklin. Things heat up and he finds a link between the fossils and the King of England. This is the sixth book in Pattison’s award-winning Bone Rattler mystery series. However, you don’t need to have read the first five books to thoroughly enjoy this entry in the series. If you are new to the series, this book will make you want to buy the first five books to see how the highly nuanced main characters have been developed over the years. This is a well-written book and the evidence of the author’s research is found in the telling and the details we are provided. Pattison builds and maintains the suspense throughout this book. If your favorite genre is historical mysteries, this book is not to be missed. You’ll want to put it at the top of your to-be-read list. My thanks to Counterpoint and Edelweiss for an eARC.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Hicks

    This is the first book by Eliot Pattison I've read so I had no idea what to expect from his writing style or if he had any other works available. Come to find out, this is the sixth book in his "Bone Rattler" series! As exciting as events sometimes are, plain history to me is usually boring unless it's told with all the excitement that surrounded the events in the first place. Eliot Pattison seems to have done that for me. His world-building was descriptive enough to take my mind to that place This is the first book by Eliot Pattison I've read so I had no idea what to expect from his writing style or if he had any other works available. Come to find out, this is the sixth book in his "Bone Rattler" series! As exciting as events sometimes are, plain history to me is usually boring unless it's told with all the excitement that surrounded the events in the first place. Eliot Pattison seems to have done that for me. His world-building was descriptive enough to take my mind to that place and his characters allowed me to live the event as they took me through their journey and tried to solve the plot that seamlessly ran through the story. I really was fascinated with this story and will most definitely backtrack to check out the previous books in the series. Historical fiction to me is a great way to blend actual events and people with an author's imagination of what the details were.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    The King's Beast is well written and offers up a rollicking adventure with exotic locals in England and the United States during the 1700s. Ben Franklin has asked Duncan McCallum, formerly of Scotland, to retrieve old bones from a bog in what is now the state of Kentucky. Unfortunately, one of Duncan's mates ends up dead while trying to recover the bones. Duncan concludes that his friend was murdered and vows to find the guilty party. Franklin stresses the import of finding and returning the bon The King's Beast is well written and offers up a rollicking adventure with exotic locals in England and the United States during the 1700s. Ben Franklin has asked Duncan McCallum, formerly of Scotland, to retrieve old bones from a bog in what is now the state of Kentucky. Unfortunately, one of Duncan's mates ends up dead while trying to recover the bones. Duncan concludes that his friend was murdered and vows to find the guilty party. Franklin stresses the import of finding and returning the bones to England even as McCallum insists on solving the murder of his friend. Eventually, Duncan connects the dots between the murder, the bones, and a hidden character who does not want Duncan to succeed at either task. The King's Beast is another beautifully written and researched effort by the writer. While this is a stand-alone, the reader is encouraged to check out the author's wonderful backlist.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I am in awe of Eliot Pattison's Bone Rattler/Duncan McCallum series. The depth of history equals that of the greatest non-fiction writers such as David McCullough & Walter Isaacson all packed into a rollicking, adventurous mystery. The essence of this series is the constant struggle between the past and the future and how mankind navigates these waters. The stress between settlers & natives, the stress between England & the Colonies, the stress between the natural and the mechanical world are al I am in awe of Eliot Pattison's Bone Rattler/Duncan McCallum series. The depth of history equals that of the greatest non-fiction writers such as David McCullough & Walter Isaacson all packed into a rollicking, adventurous mystery. The essence of this series is the constant struggle between the past and the future and how mankind navigates these waters. The stress between settlers & natives, the stress between England & the Colonies, the stress between the natural and the mechanical world are all captured in this series and most specifically in this installment. While this could be read as a standalone, I wouldn't generally recommend it. There is too much richness of character and place developed & embedded in Duncan McCallum & Conawago through the earlier books that makes them more than typical characters in a typical historical mystery. But if you find yourself here - go forward and then catch up! I don't write synopsis in most of my reviews as the publishers do a better job, but I will say that this is equal parts history & mystery with a HUGE part adventure story. I was on the edge of my seat, reading late into the night & then unable to sleep for the excitement of the adventure. There was never a good place to temporarily out this down. Fasten your seatbelts - you're in for quite a ride.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    A great mix of historical fiction and mystery that kept me hooked till the last page. I loved the storytelling and how well the author mixes historical facts with fiction. The historical background is well researched and vivid, the characters are fleshed out and the mystery is solid. It's the first I read in this series and won't surely be the last. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    This is a story about early America and a relic relic that was found and no one could figure out what it was

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Another excellent adventure with Duncan. This time to London to bring some dinosaur bones to Benjamin Franklin and to rescue his best friend Conawago from the mental institution. Great story, a page turner. Lots of murder and mystery.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard W.

  14. 5 out of 5

    cynthia caragher

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Belcher

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melody

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susan H Wakefield

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terry Watkins

  19. 4 out of 5

    Counterpoint Press

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Jones

  22. 5 out of 5

    John

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Patterson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ray

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sally Breyer

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark A Powell

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bernita Quoss

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Ray

  29. 5 out of 5

    dale kemp

  30. 4 out of 5

    Larkin

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