An unhackneyed, historically apt situation develops when Sergeant John Luckless, a ten-year veteran of His Majesty's Army, is sent by General Burgoyne to deliver a message, hidden in a silver bullet, to General Howe in New York. Those who know their Revolutionary campaigns will recognize that this was a crucial moment--in that the failure of the two to hook up may have cost the British the War--but Finlayson does not follow up this aspect. Rather, she turns the message into a dummy, thereby making a fool of the faithful Luckless, bluffing and blundering his way in disguise down the rebel-held Hudson River Valley. He's discovering that he admires these resourceful folk--who, moreover, are anything but bellicose. Or, as peppery Dutch Miss Trinchy puts it, ""I guess we Hendrickses are just on the side of trade."" Luckless promotes himself a job--and a lift--managing the unruly seamen on the Hendricks sloop, with Miss Trinchy along to translate the free black Dutch-speaking Captain's commands, an obvious bit of social enlightenment productive, however, of some verbal fun (""Bakboord zwaard neerlaten."" . . . ""Lower the larboard leeboard."" . . . ""Looooower the laaaaaboaaaaard leeeeboaaaaard!""). But the inevitable conflict of loyalty develops over the sudden appearance of obnoxious Col. De Lancey, who got Luckless assigned to this dangerous mission and has now been apprehended by the rebels--as the true spy! Disentangling the ensuing morass makes a former Redcoat of Luckless and a truer patriot of Trinchy and, on the romantic side, makes them convincingly one. Finlayson is a lackluster writer but, with lots of spot detail and some authentic scares, the book is better than it might have been if not as good as it could be.