Book Review, The Blooding of Jack Absolute, by C.C. Humphreys
I found this novel a bit hard to read, although the topic grabbed my attention. “C.C. Humphreys takes you into a swashbuckling world you won’t want to leave,” states the book jacket.
The story of this fairly wealthy young son of a soldier begins in London during the 1700s, moves through some fairly nasty adventures in England, and then takes Jack Absolute to the New World colonies as a British soldier.
As a soldier he kills a French soldier when the British seek to conquer Quebec from the French in 1759. He soon becomes a captive of an Indian tribe, and then a spy among the Quebec French in his guise as an Indian for which six months in dense forests with an Indian companion gives him credibility.
The “blooding” refers to that first time he kills, the French soldier, but it is followed by other killings in the frozen forest as he seeks survival.
I found the book a bit hard to navigate. Alongside some action-packed scenes and some of nearly graphic sex, some times when for me the story bogged down in strange places, such as at a lean-to in the snow and again at a tavern in Quebec. I don’t know if the action slowed, or I was tired. But I seemed to find myself for long periods of reading time in these slower passages.
I think one of the author’s strong points is his grasp and presentation of the history of the period. The story contains many details that I would otherwise never know. It may be this inclusion of details that in a few cases slowed the action for me. In addition, Humphreys detailed scenes that were no doubt clear in his imagination but remained unclear in mine, which caused me some bogged-down reading.
Having read the three and a-half-page “Historical Note and Acknowledgements” at the end of the book, I understand why so many detail fill its pages. Humphreys’ research included not only books, but a museum in Canada, a canoe trip into the Canadian wilds to see how the Natives survived, and even a climb up the cliffs leading to the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec.
This formerly London-based writer worked hard and meticulously to produce this Jack Absolute novel. I’m not sure as to where he relocated, which move I found at Humphrey’s website, www.cchumphreys.com. I also learned at the site that Century and Arrow is Humphreys’ new publisher.
This St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY book deserves a thorough reading. The 2005 hardback carried a price of $14.95. My copy cost less, since I bought it from Daedalus Books, a reduced-price publisher at P.O. Box 6000, Columbia, MD 21045, salebooks.com, or 1-800-395-2665. I forget the price, about $6 I think.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at email@example.com.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013