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  • History comes alive

    As the King’s Eighty-Second Regiment occupies Wilmington, North Carolina, in January, 1781, Lieutenant Michael Stoddard is ordered to stop a rebel attack on the home of a loyalist merchant. From the start, the reader is drawn into Deadly Occupation by Suzanne Adair, into the action and into the world of military command, order, and investigation. The Revolutionary War grinds on. Deadly Occupation by Suzanne Adair, is a prequel (chronologically the first in the series) to Regulated for Murder and A Hostage to Heritage, the first two novels in the Michael Stoddard series. If you have never read a historical mystery and would like to try one, this is a great series to start with. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel, yet once you read her fluid style, you will want to read the whole series. Suzanne has mastered fast-paced plotting, filled her novels with captivating characters, and keeps her readers hooked with dramatic tension. The novels are entertaining, yet I’ve absorbed an incredible amount of historical detail without feeling like I’m reading history. I love all kinds of mysteries, but this series is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Here’s what I love: Michael Stoddard is a young, 27-year-old, Lieutenant with a gift for solving crimes, a chin full of blemishes, and a murky past. In this novel, he chooses an assistant, 18-year-old Nick Spry. Spry has his own talents, an eye for detail and a relaxed way with people that encourages them to open up to him. He’s young, but he’s no one’s fool. They are an unlikely pair, yet they get results. Stoddard’s love interest, the widow Kate Duncan, owns a tavern and is easy on the eye. Yet, she is no pushover. A strong woman with great intuition, she keeps Stoddard guessing and on his toes. Throughout the series, Stoddard agonizes over a sociopathic nemesis who makes an appearance in all of Adair’s historical novels, including those not in this series, starting with Paper Woman: A Mystery of the American Revolution (where Michael Stoddard first makes a brief appearance), Camp Follower, and The Blacksmith’s Daughter. Stoddard is a minor character throughout this alternate series. Adair’s handling of Lieutenant Fairfax as a villainous thread of evil through all of her novels is brilliant. Whether stationed in one location or on the move with the Regiment, the settings are well-crafted with historical details that bring each scene to life. The suspects and characters populating the novels are realistic, with basic human motivations. They are colorful, interesting, and many are seemingly drawn from authentic historic figures. Suzanne Adair makes history come alive through a uniquely creative fiction style.

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