When a travelling tinner enters New Bern clutching a baby in his arms and announces that the rest of the little child’s family has been murdered, there is only one possible culprit that the citizens can accept: an Indian attack. But volunteer constable Harry Woodyard doesn’t believe that possible. So, he sets out, defying the orders of the county sheriff and powerful judge, to find out the identity of the true murderer. When the people of New Bern arrest the old Indian Comet Elijah—Harry’s mentor and friend—his task becomes all the more serious. Harry’s journeys take him from North Carolina, through Virginia and Boston, and up to the imposing city of Quebec at the height of Wolfe and Montcalm’s battles. What Harry discovers is that more than just a murder has happened, that there is a traitor conspiring to destroy the British, and Harry knows who the man is.
The Constable’s Tale is set during the French and Indian War and is rich in historical details and character. Smith’s writing is well-paced, and his attention to historical detail is such that it does not overwhelm the reader, but still brings colonial America alive. The middle sections of the book felt a bit sluggish, but if you can work past that, the ending will leave you wondering how you missed it. A nice light read.
Review originally appeared https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-constables-tale/