In Colonial America, a Scottish exile stumbles onto a conspiracy of killers in a most unlikely place.
In the spring of 1765, Duncan McCallum is enjoying a beautiful day and looking forward to returning home and seeing his beloved Sarah when he's summoned by Iroquois elder mother Adanahoe, who's on her deathbed. She warns of a vision she's had of Duncan and his Nipmuc Indian friend Conawago suffering grave wounds and asks his help in finding the mysterious man who kidnapped and killed her grandson Siyenca. Sadly, Duncan soon encounters another victim, the Iroquois Red Jacob, whose arm seems to have been eaten away. When he shares the story with Sarah and Conawago, his friend supports Duncan's choice to investigate after some much needed sleep. There turn out to be many more deaths or disappearances, a contagion to which the Iroquois apply a spiritual meaning. Duncan learns that there are political implications as well. He examines the bullets used to kill Red Jacob and finds them pure and advanced, not from frontier weapons. An inflammatory speech he reads in a newspaper leads to an attempt to rescue some captured Iroquois, hearing more accounts of barbarous torture, and learning of a horrible plot involving British opponents of the nascent American independence movement.
The fourth installment in Pattison's Bone Rattler series (Original Death, 2013, etc.) is another complexly plotted historical mystery written in a baroque style highly suggestive of the period and unblinking in its portrayal of American history's dark lessons.