This installment of the Jack Hollister series features thrilling elements and clever spycraft that should have universal appeal.
America declared its freedom but now needs to fight to stay free in a surprisingly small-scale historical fiction with larger-than-life characters and stellar writing.
In the early days of the Revolutionary War, the colonials are vastly outnumbered and underpowered. General George Washington receives news of an impending invasion and tasks Jack Hollister with infiltrating the British to feed intel back. As a British-citizen-turned-colonial-ally, Jack’s fate is highly uncertain. He must not only fool the British but also the revolutionaries along the way; despite having Washington on his side, both sides would hang him as a traitor. Thrilling naval battles, sparks of romance, and tense subterfuge tread close behind Jack as he walks a thin line.
The third entry in the Jack Hollister series, Battle at the Rim remains accessible and engaging. Jack is a fantastic character to follow, with ties to both sides of the historical conflict. More importantly, he is flawed and acts believably in any given situation, as when news of Nathan Hale’s execution reaches him. Jack’s initial reaction threatens to expose him as a traitor; later, he crumples in the privacy of his room. The pain of losing his friend highlights Jack’s humanity but also his potential fate should he make even a minor misstep.
Battle at the Rim effectively puts a human face on history, focusing on the day-to-day life of the people. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Nathan Hale are all major characters, but the story shifts the spotlight to Jack and his encounters with the Dutch colonies hoping to stay out of the conflict, the scared recruits on both sides dealing with survival and serving their country, and the strain of a new nation tearing itself apart while fending off a superior enemy.
The writing is fairly polished and does not get too bogged down with unnecessary naval details—an issue inherent to the genre. Should any unfamiliar terms be used, sparse footnotes clarify without muddling the prose. Dialogue shines, with unique accents and speech patterns that make conversations between multiple people flow beautifully. One minor hiccup is when a French-speaking character rapidly switches between French and English without enough context or translation.
Fans of naval and historical fiction should pick up the Jack Hollister series. This installment features thrilling elements and clever spycraft that should have universal appeal.
John M. Murray
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