Reading Week #6: ‘Thieftaker’ by D. B. Jackson

It was Mike’s turn to pick our reading material, and he suggested D. B. Jackson’s ‘Thieftaker’.  I’d seen a few blurbs about it on the web, and the general premise seemed intriguing.  I found it to be a fast-paced read, with interesting situation and some compelling characters.

 The novel is set in the mid 1700s in Boston, and centers on Ethan Kaille.  Kaille earns his living by acting as a thieftaker, which is similar to a private investigator.  When we first meet him, he is pursuing a thief through the dock areas of pre-Revolutionary Boston.  The plot concerns Kaille’s hunt for the killer of a wealthy merchant’s daughter.  During the hunt, he comes up against a rival thieftaker, the Boston constabulary, a revolutionary group headed by Sam Adams, and a rival group hoping to maintain the status quo.  There’s a lot of running around, hunting for clues, talking back and forth with suspects, and similar goings-on.  While the mystery is solved in the end, the book leaves a lot of room for sequels.

The biggest difference from historical events is the presence of magic in this version of Boston.  Kaille gets hired because he is known to do conjuring, and during the course of the events a number of different spells are cast by various characters, and we begin to get an idea of how magic works in this version of the world.  While the magic is an integral part of the plotline, it isn’t always front-and-center; the book relies more on characterization and regular action.

While I enjoyed the book, the setting and time period, I spent a half-dozen years in Boston, and the references to places and historical figures were distracting occasionally.  The story didn’t need the actual locations and famous names, although I will admit that it added an extra dimension to the plotline. Finally, there was also a bit too much running back and forth from this end of Boston to that end of Boston – I was tired just reading about it.  Perhaps a sequel will be a bit less energetic.


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