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Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America

Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America

3.4 724
by Eliot Pattison

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In a novel rich in historical detail, acclaimed author Eliot Pattison reconsiders the founding of America and explores how disenfranchised people of any age and place struggle to find justice, how conflicting cultures can be reconciled through compassion and tolerance, and ultimately how the natural world has its own morality.
Aboard a British convict ship bound


In a novel rich in historical detail, acclaimed author Eliot Pattison reconsiders the founding of America and explores how disenfranchised people of any age and place struggle to find justice, how conflicting cultures can be reconciled through compassion and tolerance, and ultimately how the natural world has its own morality.
Aboard a British convict ship bound for the New World, protagonist Duncan McCallum witnesses a series of murders and apparent suicides among his fellow Scottish prisoners. A strange trail of clues leads Duncan into the New World and eventually thrusts him into the bloody maw of the French and Indian War. Duncan is indentured to the British Lord Ramsey, whose estate in the uncharted New York woodlands is a Heart of Darkness where multiple warring factions are engaged in physical, psychological, and spiritual battle.
Exploring a frontier world shrouded in danger and defying death in a wilderness populated by European settlers, Indian shamans, and mysterious scalping parties, Duncan, the exiled chief of his near-extinct Scottish clan, finds that sometimes justice cannot be reached unless the cultures and spirits of those involved are appeased.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Having already won an Edgar for his Inspector Shan series (The Skull Mantra, etc.), Pattison makes a strong bid for another with this outstanding mystery set in colonial America. Scottish prisoner Duncan McCallum, indentured to the Ramsey Company, is troubled by a series of mysterious deaths on the ship carrying him to the New World. When McCallum's close friend Adam Munroe and a professor who was to work as a tutor are added to the list of the dead, McCallum, who has extensive medical training, is enlisted by the captain to investigate. The shipboard mysteries remain unresolved when they arrive in New York, and McCallum's quest for the truth leads him to perilous encounters on both sides of the French and Indian War. Pattison's moving characters, intricate plot and masterful evocation of the time, including sensitive depictions of the effects of the European war on Native Americans, set this leagues beyond most historicals and augur well for future entries in this series. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Pattison has won numerous awards for his Inspector Shan series (e.g., the Edgar Award-winning The Skull Mantra), set in Tibet. Here, he breaks new ground on the American frontier in 1758. It is a time of high stakes for the French and English monarchs, with warring on every continent. And in North America the Hurons fight against the Mohawks (Iroquois) and the French against the English. No one is safe: death on the frontier is sudden and harsh. Into this world comes Duncan McCallum, chief of his Scottish clan by default, for only his brother and he survived the English depredations. Imprisoned for sheltering an aged relative, McCallum is deported to America. Aboard the ship he is pressed to examine an apparent suicide and uncovers evidence of murder, with more occurring after his arrival in the New World. In the process of identifying the killer, he meets the Iroquois and gains respect for them. The choice of McCallum as detective is a good one: there are many resonances between the life of this highland warrior and the ways of the Iroquois. Recommended for mystery and historical fiction collections.
—David Keymer

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Counterpoint Press
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Meet the Author

Eliot Pattison is the author of The Skull Mantra—which won the Edgar Award and was a finalist for the Gold Dagger—as well as Water Touching Stone, and Bone Mountain. His Tibetan mystery series is an international franchise. Pattison is a world traveler and frequent visitor to China, and his numerous books and articles on international policy issues have been published around the world. An international lawyer by training, Pattison has spent his career advising and representing U.S. and foreign companies on international investment and trade issues. His extensive publications include over thirty articles on international topics, ranging from research published by several American universities to global policy essays published in Moscow and Tokyo. The author or editor of six books on international business strategy and legal topics, his most recent book, Breaking Boundaries, was selected by the New York Times as one of the five best management books of 1996. Pattison resides in rural Pennsylvania with his wife, three children, two horses, and two dogs on a colonial-era farm. Visit www.eliotpattison.com.

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Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 724 reviews.
SWatson More than 1 year ago
Many years ago (in the '60's) my husband and I both read a series of books about the French and Indian Wars by Joseph A. Altsheler. Bone Rattler is Altsheler for grown-ups, with a mystery thrown in for good measure. Pattison is a master of character development and dialog. He also has a gift for weaving thought-provoking issues into his mysteries. In this book, he considers the encroachment of Europeans on the cultures of the Native Americans who were here first; giving positive and negative examples of both cultures. And, in addition to the traditional murder mystery, he also addresses some of the greater "mystery of life" issues that takes the book a step beyond popular fiction and into literature.
BellalunaCA More than 1 year ago
This book is a very unusual and satisfying adventure. All the characters are really well done and a plot that keeps the pages turning. I would recommend this book especially to anyone interested in the American Colonial period of history. Pattison's writing style keeps the story interesting and keeps the reader interested to the next development. A historical mystery to keep everyone intrigued. Did not want this book to end. A good solid read.
AFDoc More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book. I was intrigued by the premise and I have a great fondness for colonial America. BIG DISAPPOINTMENT! This moved so slow I put it down and have no desire to pick it back up. Characters are hard to follow and the story drags on and on. I can sum up the first half of the book as follows: someone is behind a plot, it's a mystery, hey, it's a mystery, did you know it's a mystery? Ggggggrrrrrrr
phlipside More than 1 year ago
Eliot Pattison has written a wonderful story that draws in parts of American history that many will be only vaguely familiar with and adds in a twisted mystery involving the military and a man trying to build a personal empire in the New World. There's a mystical feel to the world that characters traverse, mysticism from the Highlands of Scotland and the woods of New York. If you like your mysteries simple and your characters the same way you won't much like this book. If you enjoy good writing and some depth to your story telling I highly recommend this one.
sweeneyme More than 1 year ago
Way too many sub-plots. Many paragraphs read like a string of unconnected thoughts. Every emotion and occurrence is given same amount of weight and excitement - read about half before I gave up entirely.
Kay-Z More than 1 year ago
This book was very confusing for the first half, and I had a hard time staying with it. The first chapters were filled with strange events and a lot clues that made no sense at all. Characters were leaving little slips of paper with mysterious words and phrases all over the place. Duncan was a reluctant protagonist and made decisions that went against character. The only reason I kept on reading it was because the time period was interesting. The ending was satisfactory and all loose ends were tied up, but it was a real effort to get through this book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
While the Seven Year War between England and France is fought on several continents, Scottish prisoner Duncan McCallum is on the prison ship heading to the New World. On the voyage many die including his friend Adam Munroe. The ship¿s captain assigns Duncan to investigate as he has a medical background, but by the time the vessel docks in New York he fails to uncover the reason why so many died.------------- In New York, McCallum continues his inquiries in spite of pressure to hold another prisoner culpable. However, as he concludes that the deaths are tied to the French and Indian War North American segment of the bigger hostility, he also learns that he has been indentured to Lord Ramsey to work off his prison debt. However, what he realizes is that he and the other prisoners are fodder for the war in which different groups want to control New York¿s Heart of Darkness where a massacre once occurred.----------------- Edgar winner (see Inspector Shan novels) Eliot Pattison writes a great French and Indian War whodunit that grips the audience from the opening sequence and never lets go until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action yet enables the audience to believe they are sailing the Atlantic and later thrust into a war zone. The cast is solid especially the hero who knows how far he has fallen from being the Laird of a failing Scottish clan to an indentured expendable servant. Mr. Pattison provides a winning Colonial Era mystery.-------------- Harriet Klausner
fred5962 More than 1 year ago
B & N offered this as a Friday free Nook download, and I was very impressed with the complexity of the story lines, coupled with the colloquial language and the names of things no longer in use, which concluded with a different kind of denouement. I plan to read more of Pattison.
Meisha More than 1 year ago
Nice job with the history, but seemed to drag on and in many times difficult to understand where the story was going.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Althpugh I don't think this book as one of his best, I did find it interesting if a bit predictable. Overall a great book for the train or a plane ride. The plot was so much like his other books, set in Tibet. The characters were also similar, hence the predictablility.
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This book is not even remotely a mystery. It is about someone stumbling through a series of situations that he doesn't understand, but not a mystery. It is slow to develop, moves slowly and ends without imagination. I feel like the author owes me my time back.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing writing and plotting...learn so much about that time, the Scots in colonial America and their Indian friends and enemies. I rate Bone Rattler and the series a solid 5 stars
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Pattison brought these characters to life! You connect with them through the mysteries and action, often surprised at the next twist in the plot. Along the way you also learn a bit more about history.