The review copy for this one came from LibraryThing.
Review: Skullduggery, Robert Frusolone, 2016.
When you awake up on a deserted island with twelve headless bodies around you, you’re in trouble.
And when you have amnesia it only gets worse. And, when you find out after being picked up by a passing ship, that you’re known as the pirate Grayson Fallon, you’re really in trouble.
It’s January 1717, the Golden Age of Piracy off the shores of the American colonies. Fallon learns that Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Virginia, thinks he’s gone rogue. Hired to take the Sea Raven out and fight pirates, it seems Fallon has become one.
Except, of course, Fallon isn’t in command of the Sea Raven. One Captain Renn is. His villainous allies are Henry Gifford, a man who blames Spotswood for the death of his family, and the fierce, vicious Kraal – kept around by Renn for the sheer terror his actions spread. Interestingly, Renn is sort of a proto-American revolutionary who sees the potential of the Virginia colony if it were become independent. He comes off as the book’s most memorable character.
It’s a story of disguise, cannonades, kidnapping, mutilation, imprisonment, swordplay, and lots of political intrigue.
It’s a fast-paced, lean tale. Maybe too lean. Frusolone doesn’t give us much besides action. There’s a minimum of descriptive settings and just the necessary dialogue. (I have actually been to all the Virginia locations in the novel, so that helped me to visualize the story.) Almost the only characters we get any background for are the above ones. And Frusolone relies a bit too much on the device of characters conveniently showing just in time to change the course of a fight.
Still, Frusolone kept me interested, and he resolves his plot of amnesia and mistaken identity about halfway through the book to concentrate on the fight between Renn and Fallon.
And the epilogue to the novel is a clever twist on the novel’s theme and reconciling its events with recorded history since many historical figures from the time show up in the book.