S.G. MacLean - The Devil's Recruit
"...amounts to an intriguing and addictive read."
Seaton is happily married and expecting shortly to take up a position as a minister in the church, something that he has desired for some years but has been prevented from doing, largely because of his own behaviour. He is still teaching at the university and two of his students cause anxiety and trouble: one is missing, feared dead and the other found having obviously been in a brawl. Seaton feels that there is something more than the obvious conclusion. The recruiting forces are in the town and pressing men to sign up to fight in what will become known as the Thirty Years War.
As Alexander investigates what has happened to the missing student he becomes aware of a mysterious figure watching him. A young woman dies and still Seaton doesn't know what is happening. As the truth slowly emerges he realises that his past has come back to haunt him. He is drawn into plots and schemes that lead to tragic events.
This is the fourth book featuring Alexander Seaton, set in seventeenth century Aberdeen. S.G. MacLean has a deep and considerable grounding in the history of the time and this is clearly demonstrated in this book. The background of the Thirty Years War and the involvement of Scots on both sides drive the plot. There are many who sign up to help the Protestant armies of the Swedish King and others who sign up to fight on the side of the Catholic cause under the Hapsburgs. The underground support for the Catholic cause is woven into the plot.
The history of religion and the various factions in Scotland is as fascinating as the more well known struggles south of the border. S.G. MacLean writes about it in a wholly gripping and convincing way. The character of Alexander Seaton is a complex one; an open minded man with a strong faith, he is also driven by a passionate nature. This leads him into many difficult situations and it appears that his previous misdemeanours come back to haunt him.
I loved the description of life at that time and the strong characters MacLean portrays. With a detailed and compelling plot this all amounts to an intriguing and addictive read.
Reviewed by: S.D.