Saturday was, as all my younger friends would say,
a pretty awesome day.
It started with the paperback of Burke and
arriving in the post, so the book is now definitely officially out there. I
think Accent are doing a lovely job with the covers. Don’t they look
Then I saw that the Historical Novel Society's review of Burke
in the Land of Silver (reviewed under its original title of His Majesty’s
Confidential Agent) had come out. HNS reviews matter: they are
selective about what they review so just getting a review from them means that your book is taken seriously
as a historical novel.
what they said.
tale of espionage is set against one of the lesser-known fields of conflict in
the Napoleonic Wars – South America – with the real-life British secret agent,
James Burke, as a dashing protagonist. In the early years of the 19th century,
Burke and his servant, Private William Brown, are dispatched to the Spanish
province of La Plata in South America in order to find a way to prevent its
riches finding their way into Napoleon’s coffers – but once in La Plata, “our
man in Buenos Aires” finds himself becoming drawn to the idea of the province’s
independence and to the lovely (and married) Ana O’Gorman. He makes a very
dangerous enemy and discovers to his cost that idealism has no place in
action gallops along, taking us with Burke from the Caribbean, through the
capitals of the Europe, to the colonies of the New World. Burke holds the
narrative together. He is the most strongly realised character – an ambitious,
ruthless man, committed to kill, deceive and seduce in order to promote
Britain’s interests – but who sometimes makes errors of judgment, who can let
his emotions sway him but who is steadfastly loyal to those close to him.
are occasional jumps in viewpoint, which can jar the flow of the narrative and
a couple of characters are rather one-dimensional (Molly, the patriotic “tart
with a heart” comes to mind), but overall this is a well-crafted adventure yarn
with exotic settings and plenty of suspense. I wonder if Tom Williams has any
more adventures lined up for James Burke.
Then there was the Halloween skate to round off the day. Hundreds of people in fancy dress skated through the centre of London and on to a truly horrifying party. I didn’t take many photos myself, but here’s a tiny sample of the costumes on display.
All in all, this has to have been one of the most comprehensively excellent
Saturdays I’ve seen in a while. I hope your weekends were even half as much