It’s 1777. Tavernmistress Abigail Lawrence, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, balances the needs of occupying redcoats and revolutionary spies as deftly as a tray full of brimming tankards.
The British Army has taken over most of the rooms in Abigail’s tavern, and the soldiers bring the results of their foraging missions, armed raids on neighboring farms, to her kitchen for cooking. Though she strives to maintain an appearance of neutrality, her beloved uncle, flamboyant scamp Samuel Holt, sympathizes with the rebels, and her teenage daughter Beth flirts dangerously with British officers. Then George Fenton Lee, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant, is found murdered in his room, a British officer’s sword pinning him to the floor, and Abigail’s balancing act gets more dangerous. The British take a mysterious interest in the man but refuse to help the American constable investigate. The woman Lee spent the night with, supposedly his wife, has disappeared with their two horses. When one of the horses returns, riderless, Abigail pockets the documents she finds in the saddlebags. Two of them, letters addressed to General George Washington, are promptly stolen from her. After the British, flailing, arrest Uncle Samuel for Lee’s murder, Abigail must find the missing letters to save her uncle and, it turns out, shield the real murderer.
Solid work in a debut better than the cutesy title suggests.