Eric Boss reviews NOW WE SHALL BE ENTIRELY FREE
This is a meaty, hearty book that will satisfy both historical fiction readers and lovers of thrillers. Set in the early years of 19th century England it has a genuine feel of the place and period, the smoky, rainy towns and fields of Albion. Add to that gloomy landscape the alternating themes of isolation and terror engendered by remote and clandestine locations and relentless malign pursuit with fatality as its objective.
John Lacroix is a damaged man. His escape from the field of battle in the Spanish theatre of the Napoleonic wars with his life intact has left him physically diminished and mentally shredded. His part, unwillingly or not, in an atrocity has left him with deep psychic scars and a need to forget. His decision to seek solace in some of the more remote islands off the shore of Scotland is taken, initially, with refuge alone as its motivation. He doesn’t want to be found and recalled to duty which he is certain will be his fate if he remains in England with his family.
Meanwhile, the military authorities are seeking a scapegoat upon whom to hang the blame for the slaughter of a Spanish village and Lacroix is chosen as the sacrificial lamb. One of the true perpetrators of the outrage is chosen to seek out and murder him, which he does with singular focus
and dedication. The plot could have been taken from any contemporary techno/military/spy thriller. A good man who has done some bad things is repentant but is sought out for retribution in order to divert responsibility from the real culprits.
The writing is crisp and workmanlike without resorting to hyperbolic situations or descriptions, a lean but vivid narrative the moves quickly and keeps the reader’s interest throughout. The characters are believable and sympathetic, where appropriate, vile and threatening where they need to be. It is all nicely done and provides a fulfilling read. Score another success for Europa editions. They never fail to deliver.
Shelf Talker: A 19th century version of the spy/detective thriller with accompanying period furnishings. Readers of historical fiction as well as lovers of thrillers will find this one satisfying. Good writing, settings and characters furnish the book lavishly.