Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Book Spotlight - "Aberrant Robber." by James Gervois

Aberrant Robber
James Gervois

Set in 1680, England is almost a lawless country, especially if you are one of the many keen to travel in the new coaches plying their trade along the highways.  Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 under Charles II, the numbers taking to robbing, mugging, rape, pick-pocketing, burglary and other crimes, reach unprecedented levels.  At the top of the order of criminals sits the highway robber, romantically portrayed as a gentleman, one who only robs the rich, who does not harm his victims, who looks after the poor.  ‘Aberrant Robber’ introduces the reader to the real villainy, the real harshness, the real corruption of the times.

Wilful, determined and resourceful, Tamar Ellerby (21 years old), the daughter of a vicar, refuses to accept her father’s choice of marriage partner, running away from home to make her own life in London.  She has always been a tom-boy, trained in the art of swordsmanship and the use of pistols - a match for most men.  Tamar enjoys the thrill of the unexpected and the excitement of holding people up, acquiring a considerable amount of money in the process.  She meets and falls in love with the son of a Lord, prepares to accept marriage, only to catch her lover in the arms of another at the same time she realises she is pregnant. 

Taking poison, Tamar almost dies but is saved by Will Hugill (aged 18) who has been banished from the Earl of Danby’s estate, falsely accused of raping the Earl’s youngest daughter.  Will was blackmailed by others to inform on a well known highwayman – Bill Nevison, doing as he was instructed with tragic consequences.  He escapes, heading for London when he meets Tamar, robbing her and later being caught by her.  Together they set off after Nevison only to be thwarted when Will is unfortunately killed.

Tall, good looking, the younger son of a local squire with a passion for gambling and women, Cornelius Clarkson (aged 28) is befriended by John Bannister (aged 35), the main handler of stolen goods in the North of England.  However, even with Bannister’s generosity, Clarkson needs an increasing amount of money to pay off his gambling debts, keeping stolen goods for himself with the result that Bannister arranges for Clarkson to be arrested, tried and sentenced to death.  Clarkson escapes the hangman’s noose, seeking vengeance against those who set him up.  He meets Tamar Ellerby at the time of Will’s death, saving her from Nevison and then using her to help him deal with Bannister.  Clarkson succeeds but not in the way he expects, Tamar being the one who obtains the bulk of Bannister’s wealth.

‘Aberrant Robber’ builds slowly, absorbing the reader into the 1680’s, the pace of the novel quickening as events unfold, gripping the reader to the end.  ‘Aberrant Robber’ is a novel aimed at the adult fiction market, appealing to both men and women of all ages. 

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