Lead Criminal Investigator for Major James Henry Craig
This morning, Sunday, the first of April in the year 1781, I have awakened in a cot at the barracks in the port town of Wilmington, North Carolina. The odors of sour breath and unwashed stockings greet my nose—surely a fitting start to Fools’ Holy Day. Such is to be expected when one shares sleeping quarters with men of rank and file in the Eighty-Second Regiment, but this is not the usual arrangement for me. I had ridden back to town too late to claim my comfortable bed on Second Street, at the home of Mrs. Chiswell, a loyalist. My long night involved surveillance of a tavern eight miles northeast of town. There I obtained information vital to my investigation of the abduction of a young English lord two days earlier and the rebel fanatic who holds him hostage.
I decline to partake of what oozes from the cauldron in the regimental kitchen—gray corn mush—and meet straightaway with two teams of ten soldiers. We discuss plans for their systematic and stealthy search of the sand-and-pine wilderness northeast of town, where I suspect the boy is being held. I send them on their way, and while most folk of Wilmington are in church, I pore over Major Craig’s register of local miscreants and rebel spies and sympathizers in hopes of learning about several persons of interest in the investigation. Alas, the register isn’t helpful, and I confess to a sinking of my spirits. However my next stop is Mrs. Chiswell’s home, where her housekeeper feeds me biscuits and sausage gravy, and I obtain clean teeth, a clean shirt, and a clean shave. How a man’s mood does improve when his base needs are met.
I had set up a mid-afternoon meeting with the kidnapper so I could ascertain the identity and well-being of the hostage. My men and I ride out to the site with the boy’s tutor. The kidnapper’s well-armed party outnumbers ours, so we do not attempt a rescue, but the tutor does confirm the boy’s identity. Even more importantly, the fanatic who abducted him is foolish enough to let slip some peculiar workings of his mind and beliefs. I ponder it the entire trip back to town.
What I have learned is significant enough to help me refine my strategy against him—a strategy tailored to what I believe is the criminal’s personal credo. Of course, I risk a good deal, limiting myself to this particular understanding of my opponent. Unless the Eighty-Second finds the boy by the next night, he’ll be murdered, or his mother will have to pay the criminal an exorbitant amount of money.
Fools’ Holy Day? I no longer believe so. That night, back in my bed again, I sleep well, confident that on the morrow, I will rescue the hostage alive and imprison a miscreant who is a scourge to everyone for miles around.
You can read more about Michael in A Hostage to Heritage, the second book in the “Michael Stoddard American Revolution” thriller series, published by Suzanne Adair. The first book in the series is Regulated for Murder. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
A Hostage to Heritage:
A boy kidnapped for ransom. And a madman who didn’t bargain on Michael Stoddard’s tenacity.
Spring 1781. The American Revolution enters its seventh grueling year. In Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat investigator Lieutenant Michael Stoddard expects to round up two miscreants before Lord Cornwallis’s army arrives for supplies. But his quarries’ trail crosses with that of a criminal who has abducted a high-profile English heir. Michael’s efforts to track down the boy plunge him into a twilight of terror from radical insurrectionists, whiskey smugglers, and snarled secrets out of his own past in Yorkshire.
Meet the author
Award-winning novelist Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in a two hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont, named for an English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family.
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