The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker (review)

A nice series starter – at least I hope it’s a series starter…

The Revolutionary War has been going on for a while, and things are getting really tough.   Families have been split, American soldiers are being paid in worthless paper currency, food is scarce, disease is not scarce, and it’s hard to tell where anyone’s loyalties really lie.  Amidst this roiling mess, Rebecca Parcell just wants the war to end – and to be able to keep her deceased husband’s land.  But that’s not going to happen without a miracle. The local townspeople (with some extra help from a provocateur or two) think she betrayed her hero husband to the British, and she’s likely to forfeit the farm when she’s forced to defend herself in front of the “Council of Safety”.   

Luckily for Becca, General Washington knows the truth about her decidedly non-heroic husband, Philip, and is willing to intervene on her behalf if she and Daniel Alloway, the last man to see Philip alive, help the Revolutionary cause with a bit of spying.   Toss in some villainous Brits, an equally heinous American or two, a puzzling code, a pretty slick way of transferring messages, and an underhanded British plot, and soon the bit of spying turns into a lot of spying – and a fair amount of danger too.   Eventually, though, Rebecca and Daniel figure things out, just in time to prevent a wartime atrocity.  And in the process they figure out some things about themselves too, and about each other. 

I really enjoyed The Turncoat’s Widow.   Although this isn’t really a traditional mystery, since we know right up front how Philip died (on a British prison ship), the story is more in the details – who DID betray him, and why?   Author Mally Becker does a great job of setting the stage, although I wish she would have included a historical note at the end – I always think these add to mysteries set in different times.  The plot kept me guessing right along with Becca and Daniel.   And it was a ton of fun to see a young Alexander Hamilton!

If I have any minor issue with The Turncoat’s Widow, it’s that I’m not super fond of the type of mystery where the wrongly-accused protagonist has to prove their innocence.  But Becker handles it pretty well, and I didn’t find it too annoying.   All-in-all, this is a really nice series starter.   At least, I hope it’s a series starter – after all there’s that matter in Philadelphia that General Washington would like Becca and Daniel to look into… 

And finally, my thanks to the publisher, Level Best Books, and NetGalley for the advance review copy!

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