Title/Author: Mister Slaughter (Matthew Corbett #3) by Robert McCammon.
Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller.
Publisher: Subterranean Press.
Favorite character: Matthew Corbett.
Favorite Quote: "Never let it be said that the New Yorker did not posess courage." ~Matthew Corbett.
"Let yesterday go, so it will not betray tomorrow." ~Lark Lindsay
Synopsis: The world of Colonial America comes vibrantly to life in this masterful new historical thriller by Robert McCammon. The latest entry in the popular Matthew Corbett series, which began with Speaks the Nighbrid and continued in the Queen of Bedlam, Mister Slaughter opens in the emerging metropolis of New York City in 1702, and proceeds to take both Matthew and the reader on an unforgettable journey of horror, violence and personal discovery. The journey begins with Matthew, now an apprentice "problem solver" for the London-based Herrald Agency, accepts an unusual and hazardous commission. Together with his colleague, Hudson Greathouse, he agrees to escort the notorious mass murderer Tyranthus Slaughter from an asylm outside Philadelphia to the docks of New York. Along the way, Slaughter makes his captors a surprising - and extremely tempting - offer. Mister Slaughter is at once a classic portrait of an archetypcal serial killer and an exquisitely detailed account of a fledgling nation still in the process of inventing itself. ~Goodreads.com
My Thoughts: This book is just delicious. It brings you into the world of Colonial New York with engaging characters, an impeccable setting and a flowing story. I had no trouble immersing myself into Matthew's world once again.
Matthew Corbett is back with more adventures working for the Herrald Agency. This time it is to bring notorious killer Tyranthus "Slaughter" back to New York so he can be sent to England to stand trial. However, there are several bumps in the road as Matthew and co-worker Hudson Greathouse travel to deliver this sinister character.
If Matthew's previous adventures tested his mettle, this one in particular, humbles him, brings him to his knees and shows strengths of reserve, stamina and wits that seem unbelievable for an average law clerk turned problem solver. Where any other person may have given up, Matthew seems to fortify his soul with each trial and keeps going. Indeed it is the horrific acts that he sees that does not let him rest. His fear is not for his own personal welfare anymore. He only fears for the other people that Slaughter's escape will inevitably impact. The fact that he blames himself also adds fuel to the fire. "He cursed his stupidity and greed, his smallness and his vanity." At the start of the book, Matthew is a celebrity because of his escape the previous summer from a very perilous situation. I was a little disappointed with him, but had a feeling that this was just a bump in the road and Matthew would quickly realize what was truly important in life. Unfortunately, he had to find out in several very cruel ways.
Matthew's journey with the notorious Mister Slaughter also coincided with another "problem" he is entwined with and instead of seeming too contrived it all works into an epic story where the evil that is waiting for Matthew is just hovering on the edge of his existence, waiting. The ups and downs and surprises in Mister Slaughter are filled with anguish, mystery, intrigue and a great many surprises. This book has it all.
What I also loved about this book was the tone. McCammon uses the language of the day (roundabout vs. fight, etc.) and the vocabulary and speech are just a few of the detailed touches that makes Mister Slaughter (and the whole Matthew Corbett series) successful. I felt as if I was immersed in New York City and the area in the early 1700s. Other details are the clothing that the characters wore, the landscape they traversed in, the culture of the Native Americans and even different guns and how to shoot them. All these elements made the story that much richer and more believable.
Issues are brought up that we still think of now. The problems of caring for the eldery and aging itself. There is an especially poignant scene where a worker named Opal who works with the elderly throws herself at Matthew in order to feel and to stave off her fear of aging. Matthew realizes that her behavior is not about him and he empathizes with her. "It was about the wrinkled flesh and the spottings of age and the old women who talked about old dead loves and the old men whose adventures had dwindled down to the size of a chamberpot. It was about the silence of midnight and the frost on the windowpane, and the way a day could be so slow and yet so quick..." The question about faith is also mentioned. Matthew doesn't understand how God could let such atrocities occur in the world. The kind that Mister Slaughter has committed, the troubles that he has witnessed and the injustice of it all. It is a question that will be struggled with for centuries.
I absolutely adored the characters. Of course, Matthew is my favorite, but all the supporting cast is strong. Walker, Matthew's Native American guide is a pariah in his own village because of his past and he understands Matthew more than most. Lark Lindsay seems to act as ethereal guide in this tail. Although she has suffered at the hands of Slaughter, her spirit and heart are not broken. She encourages Matthew where he might give up, she validates him where he might wallow in guilt and doubt. I want to give the award for most unforgettable to Tom, the orphan boy who is a scene stealer and is tenaciousness personified. Even the loathsome and crafty Slaughter is quite the villain and puts this book into Horror territory.
All in all: This book is quite powerful and Matthew's journey in this installment is his deepest and darkest. McCammon's storytelling is just as delightful as when I first started reading him.
Afterthoughts: I read some of the reviews on Goodreads. The 5 star ratings far outweight the lesser ones, but some people were underwhelmed and disappointed with Mister Slaughter. I personally loved it and for me, it was a real page turner.