1854: The banks of the Alma River, Crimean Peninsular. The Redcoats stagger to a bloody halt. The men of the King's Royal Fusiliers are in terrible trouble, ducking and twisting as the storm of shot, shell and bullet tear through their ranks.
Officer Jack Lark has to act immediately and decisively. His life and the success of the campaign depend on it. But does he have the mettle, the officer qualities that are the life blood of the British Army? From a poor background Lark has risen through the ranks by stealth and guile and now he faces the ultimate test...
THE SCARLET THIEF introduces us to a formidable and compelling hero - brutally courageous, roguish, ambitious - in a historical novel as robust as it is thrillingly authentic by an author who brings history and battle vividly alive.
The Scarlet Thief is an action-packed historical adventure that introduces a charismatic new hero - Jack Lark. There are obvious similarities to the Sharp and Flashman novels but Jack is very much his own man. Having risen through the ranks in a sometimes rather dubious manner, he is now a captain facing battle for the time time in the Crimean War - peace-time training in Aldershot barracks is one thing but putting that training into practice under canon fire quite another. Can he face down his own fear and inspire his men?
I grew up in the sort of area that had streets named after the Crimean battles - Alma, Inkermann, etc - but it's a conflict I know little about beyond The Charge of the Light Brigade and the dreadful conditions that Florence Nightingale encountered in the military hospitals there. Collard brings the Battle of the Alma vividly to life - both from overall troop displacement and the viewpoint of the individuals caught up in those manoeuvres. To me, this is what good historical fiction should do - take the dry dusty facts from history books and tell the story of the men and women who lived through them - and Collard does this admirably.
Maryom's review - 4 starsPublisher - Headline
Genre - Historical fiction, action adventure, Crimean War
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