The Providence Rider by Robert McCammon is the fourth installment in his series of historical thrillers featuring Matthew Corbett (available May 31, 2012).
Matthew Corbett is a problem-solver. That’s not a judgment; it’s a job title. Employed by the Herrald Agency, he’s part detective/part vigilante, and over the course of his brief yet eventful career he’s managed to find his way into and out of a number of dark and dirty situations.
In fact, everything around Matthew Corbett seems to be dark and dirty, but that’s not his fault. This is New York in 1703 and the narrow, cobblestoned streets of the city are as fishy and foul as the characters Matthew meets there.
Chief among the bad guys is the criminal mastermind known as Professor Fell, whom Matthew and his colleague Hudson Greathouse have encountered on prior occasions.
He recalled what Hudson Greathouse had told him about Professor Fell. It may be that by now Fell is on the cusp of creating what we think he desires: a criminal empire that spans the continents. All the smaller sharks—deadly enough in their own oceans—have gathered around the big shark, and so they have swum even here . . .
Indeed, Professor Fell intends to establish what he calls a “parliament” of criminals—and a nasty bunch they are, too. But the problem facing Matthew is even nastier: Professor Fell wants Matthew’s help in building his organization.
Inclined as he is to reject the proposal, Matthew isn’t given the chance. Instead, he’s all-but-kidnapped. Then he’s transported to Pendulum Island, Fell’s private lair in “the remote Bermudas,” and dropped into the midst of a gang of villains that would make even Batman run for cover.
“Let me tell you why you are here,” [the professor] said. “You call yourself a problem-solver. I call you a providence rider, for I need a scout to go ahead. To find the trail that shall be followed. Much depends on this, Matthew. Much expense and . . . difficulty . . . has been paid to bring you here, as you certainly know.”
“I know many people have suffered.”
“They have, yes. But that was your doing. You declined an invitation to dinner, did you not? You must realize, Matthew . . . that no one says no to me.”
In The Providence Rider, Robert McCammon creates a vivid world of bloodthirsty, duplicitous, vain, and grotesque villains, then provides us with a hero who—somewhat surprisingly, even to himself—is equal to the task of defeating them.
The book’s dark fantasy elements will be familiar to fans of McCammon’s stand-alone novels, such as Boy’s Life. Those who have read the first three Matthew Corbett novels—Speaks the Nightbird, The Queen of Bedlam, and Mister Slaughter—will feel comfortable back among their Dickensian array of characters, from sassy Berry Grigsby and Effrem Owles the tailor’s son to lithe knife-thrower Minx Cutter and Professor Fell’s formidable henchman, Sirki.
“Don’t be afraid,” said Sirki. His dark brown eyes under thick, arched black brows were calm and untroubled by any ideas of violence. Unless the man was a very good actor or under supreme self-control, Matthew thought. He glanced quickly toward the razor. Six feet had never seemed so far.
“Oh,” said Sirki, his voice soft and serene for a man of his gargantuan size, “I could kill you long before you might reach that, young sir.”
Matthew had no doubt of it. . .
It’s a dark and dirty world that Matthew Corbett inhabits, and from it McCammon crafts a colorful, action-packed tale filled with sinister doings and plenty of good old-fashioned heroics. Start at the beginning of the Matthew Corbett series or dive right in with this latest installment—and prepare for an entertaining ride.
Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.
See all posts by Leslie Gilbert Elman for Criminal Element.