A righteous man labors mightily to find justice and expose a devious killer.
Sydney Gaol, New South Wales, 1829. Gabriel Carver, known ironically as “the jolly hangman,” shows doubts about executing a prisoner who’s been flogged into confessing. A far graver moral challenge faces Carver when Meg Harper, his violent, estranged wife, arrives, slated for trial and certain conviction for the brutal murder of her employer, Ned Staines. Meg admits to attacking Staines for withholding her wages, but not to killing him. She fingers an overseer named Ralph Devers. Shortly after Devers proclaims his innocence to Carver, he’s found dead by hanging. When the magistrate declares Carver the most likely suspect, it falls to him to find the real killer and clear his name. He begins with the names that Devers and Meg gave him. Much suspicion centers around Ruth Tremaine, Staines’ formerly innocent young wife, who escaped his abuse by fleeing to England. Might she reappear to claim an inheritance? The murder of a clerk in possession of a book containing a record of all false names and travel papers points Carver toward London, where he’s sure the answer lies. Now that he’s a fugitive, Carver’s situation goes from bad to worse as he finds himself a prisoner at sea. He’ll need guile, determination, and physical strength to reach his destination and catch the clever killer.
Baltakmens (The Raven’s Seal, 2012), echoing the voices of 19th-century masters like Conrad and Melville, combines adventure and mystery in a high-stakes tale of class, morality, and justice