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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

‘A Fugitive Englishman’ by Roy Lewis

Published by Hawkins Publishing Services,
28 November 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-910208-05-2

England, 1880, and Edwin James is telling his stepson the story of his life: his meteroic rise as a London attorney, and equally sudden fall; his emmigration to America in 1860, his work as a secret agent in New York, and his involvement in the assassination of President Lincoln.

James was a narrator as fascinating as he was untrustworthy: unscrupulous in both business and private life, a gambler, a drinker, a womaniser. Crime writers might know of him as the man who prosecuted Palmer, the poisoner. Through James, Lewis brings the era to life: the shadier areas of London and New York are vividly described, and we also meet personalities like Palmerston, Colonel Lafayette Baker, Secretary of War Stanton, John Wilkes Booth and Lincoln himself. The narrative has an overall shape, picking up threads from the start at the end, but it’s also episodic, and the narrative method jarred slightly at times, in the Moll Flanders ‘I just happen to have kept that letter’ moments. The assassination episode was breathlessly exciting, and Lewis’s alternative theory was intriguing – it made me want to find out more about the real facts.

The vividly-recreated life-story of a rogue who lived through interesting times.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Roy Lewis is a well-established crime writer with 60 novels to his name. He lives in the north of England where he sets many of his books. He is a former college principal and Inspector of Schools who now runs business training programmes and has business interests in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. He has three children - all of them lawyers.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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