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  • Tim and the Broken Bones: A Murder Mystery Set in the American Revolution

  • Tim Euston, Book 4
  • 著者: Roddy Thorleifson
  • ナレーター: Roddy Thorleifson
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Tim and the Broken Bones: A Murder Mystery Set in the American Revolution

著者: Roddy Thorleifson
ナレーター: Roddy Thorleifson
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あらすじ・解説

Amid the Battles of Saratoga, Tim Euston has to defend the lovely Betty-May from those who can profit from her wrongful conviction for the murder of her husband. It is September 1777, the third year of the American War for Independence. In upstate New York, Tim Euston (age 17) is playing with two boys while they help their Uncle Martin harvest wheat. In the distance they can hear the ominous rumble of cannon fire in what has to be a major battle. A British invasion force had sailed up the Saint Lawrence and marched south. Progress through rough terrain had been painfully slow but they were now approaching settled land with good roads. Their goal is to capture the state capitol at Albany and gain control of the Hudson River Valley, splitting the new nation and destroying revolutionary morale.

Just days before, Tim and his friend Dan had come to where the Continental Army was hoping to stop the enemy advance. Both wanted to join and fight, but Tim broke his arm when saving the daughter of a colonel from a runaway wagon. Frustrated, he came back to Martin’s farm where his sister Sadie and mother Abby had found work. Now, as he minds the children, Tim is missing out on what may be a crucial battle and his last chance for military glory.

Someone calls Martin away. After he disappears into nearby woods, Tim and the boys hear a single gunshot. The hired man appears and tells Tim he has found Martin bleeding from the head but still alive. In the woods by Martin, Tim finds a pistol that looks like one that belongs to Dan. They help Martin back to the house but he dies in the arms of his wife, Betty-May. She is young, beautiful, and eight months pregnant. These traumatic events trigger Betty-May’s labor pains and she delivers a healthy little boy. Tim cannot help but feel deep compassion but this sentiment does not appear to be shared by her in-laws. Four of them are staying with her after being evacuated from their farms to escape the enemy’s advance.

Martin had offered his barn as a hospital and the wounded begin to arrive, including Tim’s friend Dan who had marched into battle, fired at the enemy, and broke three ribs in a fall. They find both of Dan’s pistols missing from his traveling chest. Tim and Dan have to protect themselves, but they are now ensnared by the tragic beauty of Betty-May, who might be falsely accused of the murder of Martin. She had gone out alone to call the men in for supper and had passed close by the scene of the crime. If convicted, the guardian to her child would be Ben, the brother-in-law named by Martin in his will. Though there is no hard evidence, the murderer could be either Ben.

Dan, Abby and Sadie want to leave, but Tim convinces them to stay and help him try to stop those who seek Betty-May’s downfall. Might the killer kill again? Even if she is not hanged, Betty-May could still lose her child. Will the baby be raised by his mother or by his uncle?

This complication of events and collision of personalities plays out against an authentic portrayal of everyday activities in the 18th century. Simple technology and superstitions bring the era to life without reading like a scholarly social history. Revolutionary ideology is conveyed through clever comebacks and heated arguments. Women still exert a great deal of power and influence over men who desperately want to be respected. In this era, America was primarily rural and agricultural. Without scholarly language, Thorleifson introduces the major issues of historical debate on the developing national character. Recent research has dispelled myths about the revolutionary era as it affected ordinary people. A novel can convey this new knowledge in a way that is accessible for young people but still compelling for their elders. With hints and threats the listener is kept on the hook by a concern for characters that seem almost real. Tim and the Broken Bones is not just a who-done-it.

©2019 Roddy Thorleifson (P)2021 Roddy Thorleifson

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