Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Slipping the Scaffold! Wild Rover No More (A Bloody Jack Adventure) by L. A. Meyer

Nov.10, 1809--Special Edition



Protesting her Innocence to the last, the Criminal Jacky Faber, also known as Bloody Jack, the Scourge of the Caribbean; La Belle Jeune Fille Sans Merci; the Lily of the West; and the Belle of Botany Bay was hanged today by the order of the State of Massachusetts, having been Convicted of High Treason against the United States. Incriminating Documents concerting detailed plans of the Fortifications at Fort McHenry had been found in her possession.

The beauteous and bold Jacky Faber, still only a lass of nineteen, has sailed both oceans as a privateer, amassed a fortune as head of Faber Shipping Enterprises, posed for a famous scantily-clad portrait painted by Goya, flatboated down the Mississippi, and undertaken various undercover espionage for assorted governments, seems to have come to the end of the road.

It  had seemed things were going well for the wily Jacky. Having vowed to have nothing further to do with men and live single, amassing an even larger fortune from legal merchant trade, Jacky is unexpectedly reconciled with her love, Jaimy Fletcher. But when jealous conspirators plant a map of Fort McHenry in a British diplomatic pouch with Jacky's name on it, she becomes a traitor hunted down by her state and country. But Jacky always takes care to know where the back door is, and, disguised in her well-worn midshipman's sailor's togs, makes an escape in her sailboat Morning Star and, leaving Boston Bay behind. makes for the port of Plymouth in a howling gale.

In Plymouth Jacky looks about for a job that will allow for deep cover and, as Annabelle Leigh, she takes employment as a governess. But a snoopy Plymouth postmaster reads her mail, and soon the federals on on her trail again. By chance, Jacky encounters a traveling circus troupe and hires on, using the skill she exhibited during her Paris sojourn, as Princess Natasha Annasova Romanoff, Aerialist. Garishly made up and costumed in spangled tights, high on the tightrope wire, she feels safe for the moment as the circus continues its travels toward Provincetown.

But Jacky's fabled luck seems to fail her this time, and she is discovered and returned to Boston, summarily tried as a British spy, and slated for hanging as soon as her scaffold is completed.

I sigh and look about me. All my thoughts of escape have been in vain. There is a lock on my shackle, a lock on the cell door. I have no metal to fashion a key. No, I am truly lost. This is one cage that Jacky Faber will not get out of... until, that is, they take me out for the final time.

"All right, boys, let's give 'er a try," I hear one of the carpenters say outside my window. There is the rasp of a lever being thrown and the sound of something falling with a whump.

They have completed the gallows and are testing the trap that will fall from beneath my feet.

I crawl into bed, my ankle chain rattling on the bedstead as I do it.

Oh, was I ever so bad as to deserve this?

But while Jacky Faber is bravely composing herself to meet her maker, she has friends hard at work to help her yet again cheat the hangman, in the rousing conclusion to L. A. Meyer's just published, series-concluding Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life &Times of Jacky Faber (Bloody Jack Adventures) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

Meyer's characters are crisp and true to the times, the plotting is gripping but never improbable, and Jacky Faber herself is a wondrous heroine, fearless and intelligent, a strong woman born out of her time who does not scruple to use her beauty, quick wits, and endless energy to find adventure all of over the globe. A fine fictional character with the combined qualities of such historic femmes as Cleopatra of the Nile, Mary Queen of Scots, pirate queen Anney Bonney, spy Mata Hari, and exotic danseuse and World War II spy Josephine Baker, Jacky's rip-roaring escapades never fail in this twelfth book of the much lauded Bloody Jack Adventures series. Says Kirkus in their starred review, "Meyer offers an impressively accomplished heroine, suspense as taut as a hangman's rope and a satisfying conclusion. A solid and sentimental entry in an underrated series."

Fare ye well, and a fair wind to your back, Jacky Faber!

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