Honor's Kingdom

Honor's Kingdom

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by Owen Parry
     
 

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Winner of the 2002 Hammett Award

They found the dead fellow in London, balled up in a basket of eels. Chewed upon he was, and most unsightly. He still had the proper shape of a man, if a bit whittled down and perforated. But he was not handsome on the butcher's table, even though the blood was long since out of him.

In a stunning re-creation of

Overview

Winner of the 2002 Hammett Award

They found the dead fellow in London, balled up in a basket of eels. Chewed upon he was, and most unsightly. He still had the proper shape of a man, if a bit whittled down and perforated. But he was not handsome on the butcher's table, even though the blood was long since out of him.

In a stunning re-creation of 1860s London and Glasgow that reaches from the worst slums in Europe to the lobbies of Parliament, Owen Parry brings the past to ravishing life. In a time when casualty lists grimly mount in America's Civil War, federal officer Major Abel Jones returns to the land he once left in hope of a better life on a mission essential to the Union cause. Yet it is the strange death of a lowly man of the cloth -- and a subsequent series of equally grotesque murders -- that intrude upon Jones's determined efforts to block the delivery of British warships to the Confederacy. And his pursuit of a monstrous killer is leading a patriot with a limp, Victorian morals, and a Welsh lilt into a hellish darkness...where some of England's most renowned personages and powerful political leaders -- including Benjamin Disraeli himself -- appear to have a great deal to hide.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The delightful Maj. Abel Jones (previously met in Parry's series in Faded Coat of Blue, Shadows of Glory and Call Each River Jordan), agent for Abraham Lincoln, appears in London during the summer of 1862 to combat Britannia's flirtation with the Confederacy and prevent construction of ironclad warships for the rebel navy in this humorous historical novel spiced with suspense. His murdered predecessor has been found, thoroughly nibbled, in a basket of eels. Seeking the perpetrator of this crime, Jones roams from odiferous slums to the halls of Parliament (itself plagued by the stench of the Thames), encountering such personages as the cobra-like Disraeli and the na ve Henry Adams. Cameos by Trollope, Whistler and Karl Marx enliven the narrative, and Parry has almost too much fun, as when a copper instructs a subordinate, "Go get Wilkie, Collins." The glee the author takes in the narrative voice of his staunchly Methodist hero is infectious, and he brings the era to vivid life. Readers learn more of Jones's history, including his stint in the British army, as thuggee assassins and a dreadful nemesis he had thought dead appear to hound his steps. This is another rollicking entry, capturing "the spirit of our age, the turbulent sixties, with their progress, hope, immodesty and danger. But let that bide, for there is more to tell." Indeed, the next installment is announced on the last page. (July) Forecast: All the novels in Parry's series-previously reissued in mass market paperback-will be published in HarperPerennial trade paper editions, one each year beginning with Faded Coat of Blue in February 2002. This project, plus Parry's reliable excellence, should keep the series going strong for some time to come. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The Union had to face more than the Confederacy during the Civil War. Certain factions in Great Britain were eager to help the South in their endeavors by providing warships to destroy commercial Union vessels. In Parry's fourth Civil War novel (after Faded Coat of Blue and Shadows of Glory), Union major Abel Jones is sent to London to investigate the disappearance of a fellow agent, found dead and half-eaten by eels in a barrel. As Jones becomes enmeshed in the intrigues of British government and witnesses the raw existence of London's poor, he finds himself following leads that take him from Disraeli's parlor to the shipyards of Glasgow. When a child is brutally murdered and menacing ghosts from the past emerge, Jones must confront more than shipyard conspiracies. Although the plot can at times be confusing, the story is intriguing, and Parry fans will enjoy traveling with Abel Jones through the book's dangers to solve the mystery. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/02.] Loree Davis, Broward Cty. Libs., Fort Lauderdale, FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060510794
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/29/2003
Series:
Abel Jones Series, #4
Pages:
431
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.26(h) x 1.23(d)

Read an Excerpt

Honor's Kingdom


By Owen Parry

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Owen Parry All right reserved. ISBN: 006051079X

Chapter One

They found the dead fellow in London, balled up in a basket of eels. Chewed upon he was, and most unsightly. The Good Lord knows I have seen worse. In war and, once, in a church. But bad enough that one looked. Now, eels are nibblers and burrowers, so he did not lack great bits of himself as a corpse will that has been got at by vultures or pigs. To say nothing of dogs or jackals. No, he still had the proper shape of a man, if a bit whittled down and perforated. He would go in the ground almost complete. As for his soul, that is a separate matter. But he was not handsome on the butcher's table, even though the blood was long since out of him.

The body reeked of fish. A great stink filled the cellar room where the coroner's folk had laid him out, overpowering the smell of the lamps and lye soap. Twas mid-day, with the great city rumbling and grumbling beyond the damp walls, but within the morgue the hour might have been midnight. Young Mr. Adams looked as though his last meal had begun a revolution in his stomach and his pallor come near the typhoid.

"That," the elder Mr. Adams began, in a voice as calm as a Welsh Sunday, "is the Reverend Mr. Campbell, of Cleveland, Ohio. He called upon me at the legation some months ago. I believe he had come here toproselytize."

"Begging your pardon, sir?" the police inspector, a black-whiskered fellow named Wilkie, asked.

"To preach," Mr. Adams explained. "And to convert. It was a private undertaking, as I recall, conducted among the poor. He asked for a donation."

The United States Minister to Britain was not a tall man - though larger than myself - but he carried his shoulders like a grenadier and his face possessed the self-control of a veteran sergeant regulating a pack of young officers. A laurel wreath of hair wrapped round his baldness and a neat beard grew back of his chin. His collar was white and high, and cutting stiff. You would have thought him a high-born Englishman himself, for all the wintry dignity he wore. His eyes were hard as jewels. I had barely presented myself to him when the young swell from the Foreign Office appeared, police inspector in tow, to ask Mr. Adams to visit the morgue in his company.

And now we stood over the body, in the quiet the dead compel.

"Lord Russell will be dismayed," the Foreign Office lad intoned, in a voice one degree too haughty. Unwilling to steady his eyes upon the corpse, he was. His name was Pomeroy and he had feathery brown hair and a bare wish of whiskers. He was not the sort of Englishman who is permanently ruddy from sport and scented with hounds. More the club-room champion, Pomeroy seemed all narrowness, with eyes that lacked resolve, but his speech betrayed the impatience and expectations of a man who has never had to labor for his wages.

We were seven down in the morgue, not counting the dead man: the elder Mr. Adams and his son, Mr. Henry Adams, who looked the parlor sort himself and was suffocating a gag with a handkerchief pressed to his mustache; the young diplomatic fellow, Pomeroy; Inspector Wilkie, whose burst of whiskers rounded canine features; a brass-buttoned constable fingering his truncheon as if the dead man might rise up and attack us; a crooked-over coroner's assistant, happy in his work; and my Christian self.

When his utterance failed to draw a response, young Pomeroy added, "There will be questions, sir. Indeed, Lord Russell may be extremely dismayed."

Mr. Adams glanced at the boy, just for a twinkle, and said without emotion, "I appreciate Earl Russell's interest."

"In fact, sir," the Foreign Office boy pushed on, with more than a hint of petulance, "Lord Russell may be extraordinarily dismayed."

"Earl Russell's concern never disappoints," Mr. Adams said. "Please extend my cordial regards to the Foreign Secretary." A gas lamp flared. By a table of tools, the coroner's assistant gnawed furtively at a bun, for the hour had arrived for the midday meal and some men cannot regiment their appetites.

"Sir," Pomeroy insisted, "I mean to say that Lord Russell will expect me to carry back an explanation. A letter addressed to you was found upon the person of this...this-"

"Upon the Reverend Mr. Campbell," Mr. Adams said helpfully.

"A letter, sir! Addressed to you, to the American Minister credentialed to Her Majesty's Government! Alluding to the gravest matters. Insinuating violations of...of diplomatic protocol!"

"I find that curious," Mr. Adams replied.

I almost began to suspect our representative of enjoying the exchange, for the young fellow was not his match, twas clear at once. Mr. Charles Francis Adams was the son and grandson of American presidents, see. America's answer to high breeding, that one. Formed out of New England's bitter winters, and firm as a block of ice.

"Her Majesty's Government will expect clarification," Pomeroy sulked.

Mr. Adams hinted a smile, as if the young fellow had been complimenting him steadily. "We shall all expect clarification of this particular matter, Mr. Pomeroy." He turned to the coroner's man. "When may the body be released for burial, sir?"

The crooked-over fellow lowered his bun and looked across the body to the police inspector.

Inspector Wilkie drew himself up in that rooster's posture that will pass for authority. "Begging your pardon, sir," he began, "seeing as it's murder clear enough, what with the back of 'is 'ead all crushed in for the eels to go in and out, and the poor parson a most evident victim of the criminal class amongst us, we shall 'ave to partake of the benefits of science a bit longer. To do up the inquest all proper, sir..."

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Honor's Kingdom by Owen Parry
Copyright © 2003 by Owen Parry
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Fox News Strategic Analyst Ralph Peters is the author of 27 books, including bestselling and prize-winning novels. He has experience in over 70 countries and, as a journalist, has covered multiple conflicts. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications and he serves on the advisory board of Armchair General magazine. He lives in Virginia. Owen Parry is the pen name of Ralph Peters, author of such popular novels as the recent Cain at Gettysburg and the New York Times bestseller The War After Armageddon. A career soldier, journalist, acclaimed strategist and media commentator, Peters/Parry has been a lifelong student of the Civil War, and his Abel Jones mysteries have achieved cult status among Civil War buffs and mystery fans alike.

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Honor's Kingdom 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After a rather lackluster, thin and overly coincidental "Call Each River Jordan", Owen Parry has released Abel Jones upon one of his most compelling, intricate and baffling mysteries ever! Honor's Kingdom is a stupefying and exciting page turner set in the England of the 1860s, and challenges the reader with interwoven plots and an every expanding series of protagonists, few of whom are entirely what they seem. Although there are tangental elements, which most afficionados of period mystery might willingly dispense with, they nevertheless add to the wonderful atmospherics. Parry captures the period perfectly, even to the dialects of the performers on the pages. He also continues along with his strangely enticing "Dickens Obsession". As with his previous work, Parry spends more than a little time working some rather obviously Dickensian characters and description into the plot and, particularly, the tangental subplotting. He enjoys his little, ongoing joke even to the point of slipping a few titles of Dickens' into the phrasing. Look for "bleak house" particularly. He also manages to cleverly install the name of one of Dickens' closest friends and contemporaries, a famed mystery writer of the period. See if you pick up on it. As usual, Jones is preachy and sometimes makes the most outlandish predictions for the future, deliciously wrong. He even meets a few famous fellows in the personages of Anthony Trollope and James Whistler, for which moment he has a final joke to play upon us. A lover of historical mystery will simply adore this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having never read or heard of Owen Parry until seeing this book at the library, I wasn't aware that this book's main character, Major Abel Jones, has appeared in previous novels by Parry. However, reading those earlier works is not necessary, for Abel¿s history is revealed in dribs and drabs so that by the novel¿s end, you know much about his interesting past. I¿ve read and attempted to read a lot of historical novels over the years, and this one is simply one of the best. Somehow Parry manages to make you feel you¿re really living in London in the year 1862 without writing gobs of boring passages describing mind-numbing details that many inferior historical novels include. The main character is so human you might think he¿s that uncle no one talks about, for he¿s as noble and moral as he is flawed. A staunch Methodist, Jones is in contrast a man driven by logic and reason, which are not always compatible with the fundamentalist views of the Methodist church at that period in history. Indeed, he struggles mightily with his sense of morality and his desire to learn. The best example: he believes that one must never be idle. He also believes novels are the Devil¿s works. So when he finds himself with nothing to do except read Dickens¿s Great Expectations, he decides the lesser of the two evils is reading rather than doing nothing. He gets entranced by the novel and, when it gets destroyed before he can finish it, he finds himself buying another copy. He is reluctant to admit that he might have been wrong that novels are bad, but he¿s open-minded enough to finally do it. The little moral dilemma illustrated above helps to give a sense of readers can expect of this novel: interesting, well-developed characters and a suspenseful story that makes it hard to put down. Oh, and for those readers who enjoy a good mystery, this book qualifies as that as well. And it¿s a good one, too, but I¿ll let you read the synopses already provided by Barnes&Noble.com fill you in on those sorts of details.