Broos Campbell, |
Matty Graves #2: The War of Knives
Since reading No Quarter, the first book in Broos Campbell's Matty Graves series, I have had the time to read several novels and nonfiction books of a nautical vein. Some were good, a few were very good, and one or two was a struggle to read to completion.
That in itself is somewhat odd, for no other reason than The War of the Knives isn't really a nautical story at all. Sure, young Graves is the first lieutenant of the American war sloop Rattle-Snake during America's naval infancy, and certain portions of the story do take place at sea. But the majority of Knives occurs on San Domingo, a wealthy French colonial island (now Haiti) torn apart by a brutal civil war. Matty's mission is primarily one of intelligence-gathering, but he quickly finds himself involved in guerrilla skirmishes and large-scale assaults, sometimes riding a pugnacious horse, undergoing torture and languishing in a tumble-down prison. He spends far too much time in a truly vile sewer, witnesses a great deal of racial hatred and fights one great sea battle entirely without pants.
I loved it. Campbell's writing, which was strong in Quarter, hits new heights in Knives. I was there every step of the way on Matty's hapless adventures, even when he was elbow deep in a putrid corpse or unselfconsciously taking the hat of a comrade who no longer had a head to wear it on.
Campbell knows how to tell a rollicking tale, and I am ready to dive right into the third book in the series. I hope I find news of a fourth waiting at the end.
2 January 2009
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