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Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America (Duncan McCallum, #1)
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Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America (Duncan McCallum #1)

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  942 ratings  ·  158 reviews
Aboard a British convict ship bound for the New World, Duncan McCallum witnesses a series of murders and seeming suicides among his fellow Scottish prisoners that thrusts him into the bloody maw of the French and Indian War. As the only man aboard with any medical training, Duncan is ordered to assemble evidence to hold another prisoner accountable for the deaths — or face...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published December 28th 2007 by Counterpoint (first published 2007)
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75th out of 90 books — 30 voters
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This was the story of a Scot named Duncan McCallum who has been sent to the Colonies as a prisoner of the English. His clan was decimated at Culloden while he was away at school and he and his younger brother Jamie are the only surviving members of Clan McCallum. Jamie is a soldier in the English army and already in America. Duncan plans to meet up with his at some point in the future and hopes to start over in America after his prison sentence is over. Things change radically for Duncan while a...more
This guy can really write. That said, this novel was not an easy read. The language was unfamiliar, the ideas even more so. There was too much taken for granted which left me out in the beginning. I had to look up words, re-read passages, go back to figure out who certain people were again, etc. This made it slow, if not tedious. But I was curious...."what the heck happened here??" This made reading the book challenging to say the least. There was no denying the darkness of the tale was compelli...more
Nov 21, 2013 Wanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
Shelves: 2013, nookbooks
16 NOV 2013 -- WOW! What a beginning. Having read and enjoyed The Skull Mantra, this author's Tibet detective series, I stumbled across this three-part American History series and fell right in. The Seven Years' War is a fascinating part of history. I am glad of the opportunity to learn a bit more. Here goes ...

21 NOV 2013 -- a fantastic read about what took place in America between the Pilgrims and the Revolutionary War. This book is fantastic and I am definitely going to download the next two...more
I really desperately wanted to like this book, but it was just too convoluted, overwrought, and nearly boring. I have never in my life read all but the last 50 pages of a book and then quit! Till this one, that is. Here is the Publisher's Weekly review so you know what it is about:

"It's the mid-18th century, and young Highland Scot Duncan McCallum is on a convict ship bound for the New World. Most of his family has been slaughtered, and he's having a hard time with the yoke of British oppression...more
When one man decides to help his family he is penalized quite harshly. Even though he studied to become a doctor he would never see the light of day to complete his schooling. Because of his actions in trying to hide a family member from harm Duncan McCallum a High Scot, is placed in a prison, beaten at times that his skin is rare, and then sent on a voyage to Colonial America as an Indentured Servant to the Ramsey Company. But, there is much to tell before this as many of his comrades or fellow...more
I read this because I recently read all of Eliot Pattison Inspector Shan novels and had fallen in love with Pattison's writing.

Bone Rattler is the first of a new series of historical novels set in 1759. The main character is Duncan McCallum, a Scottish prisoner on his way to America, who soon finds himself in the middle of the battle between the English, the French and the Native Americans - all while he has to try to find a way to clear his friend from a murder charge.

I didn't like this as muc...more
Bone Rattler is a book about the early settlement of the United States. It invokes a time when Native Americans were mysterious and feared, New World settlers were often killed by enemy tribes, the French were out to get the English with alliance tribes, and Scotland natives were persecuted and forced to hide their heritage if they wanted to survive. Pattison does a remarkable job at painting the picture of this world and contrasting the relationships between the Scots and the Native Americans-...more
WOW. This was such an engaging book. The subject and setting was different to other historical mysteries I have read. It's so welcoming to find a fresh idea!

As another reviewer said, it's not an easy book to follow - you have to pay close attention. If I was reading an actual book I would have turned down the corners of pages where clues were discovered so that I coud go back and reread passages. I read this on my Kindle and I am sure it has the capability to mark passages but I was too far in t...more
Scottish Highlanders and Hurons in the 1750s had a bond few understood.Highlanders brought here on British prison ships were slated to lives of slaves or indentured servants or face the gallows in England. either way they faced almost certain death in the New World. With all the alliances and intrigue of unprincipled landgrabbers with grants from the King. Many escaped their fates and enjoyed a better one with the Hurons. Their spiritual beliefs and warrior cultures were remarkably similar,and o...more
Eliot Pattison is a sensitive writer who richly depicts the culture of the American colonial era and takes a good stab at some of the eastern Native American cultures of the times too. His main character is in an almost impossible situation as an indentured servant who is required to inform upon his fellow Scots prisoners.
Downsides to the book: I really wanted to become immersed in the time period that Pattison so richly describes, but the book was often confusing. Questions were evaded and nev...more
I started this book because it was free for the Kindle from Amazon, it said "Bone" in the title, and it is historical fiction. I stayed up all night finishing it last night because it was AWESOME! If you decide to read this, just be prepared to spend the first 1/3 of the book totally lost (as is your narrator), the second 1/3 of the book only mostly lost (as the narrator starts to figure out what is going on but doesn't completely clue you in), and the last 1/3 of the book thinking you know what...more
While I could not get into Skull Mantra I got quickly sucked into this one set in early Colonial America with the hero a Scot transported overseas during the French and Indian wars. As one reviewer noted, it is a dense read - which for me means you cannot skim or you'll miss plot points. I sometimes had trouble keeping the various factions (Native Americans for the British or French, rangers v. soldiers, keepers, prisoners, ect.) straight. Also you are dropped directly into the action without an...more
This book felt too much like the Shan stories set in Tibet. But one thing you can be assured of is that Pattison will have done his research. This is a story set in Colonial America and has very interesting protagonists. Many of the characters are very interesting and have great depth. The story definitely kept my attention and gave me a lot to think about. If you haven't read any of the Tibetan stories, I think you will really like the twists and turns the story takes. If you have read them, yo...more
I was excited to find a historical mystery set during the F&I War but this was rather disappointing: too dense with detail to be a pleasant mystery read and it did not give me the feeling of the times & the war that I had hoped for. Did like the info about the Scottish removals and the way the disposessed clansmen had an affinity for Indian ways that made the British uneasy. Also lots of interesting Indian pov and lore. Overall the book seemed scattershot as if the author tried to inclu...more

scotland you say? The story is about a group of Scottish convicts brought to New York and thrown into the maw of the french and indian war where brutality meets brutality in the wilderness of upstate New York where the scots have much in common with the Iroqious, two imperiled tribal groups. Add mystery to the mix and it is a good read.
Wow. Did I say Wow? Wow. This was an amazing read. Duncan McCallum, an indentured prisoner headed to the New World gets embroiled in a shipboard murder and the politics surrounding the war between the native tribes of America and the white settlers. I did not find it a difficult read at all - but it is deep and detailed and skimming is forbidden. The tale continues to unfold as more and more and more layers are added to the story as one mystery is solved and another is revealed. The intertwining...more
The story line is convoluted, the characters are hard to keep track of and are not fully realized, the subject matter (the war between the English and the French using Indians as warrior allies against each other, and Scots convicts as indentured soldiers) is depressing. The Indian raids in which small English children are stolen and used as slaves or adopted into Indian culture is unspeakable. The destruction of the Indian nations is equally unspeakable. As are the English crimes against the Sc...more
Apr 12, 2012 Miriam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves historical fiction
Recommended to Miriam by: my sister
This was a fabulous book, extremely well written. (So I don't read much adult fiction anymore because I'm a children's librarian, but I was impressed!) This book is a mystery set in colonial America during the French and Indian war. It follows the fate of Duncan McCallum, last of his clan, whose family was slaughtered by the English after the Battle of Culloden.

He is brought to the New World in chains as an indentured slave to work for the Ramsey Company composed of other Scottish Highlander pr...more
I'm not typically a mystery reader, but I love historical fiction, and the historical edge to this book intrigued me. Since it was free on Kindle one day, I decided to give it a try.

A part of me wants to give this book a 3, b/c the mystery was simply too complex for me to fully follow, to the point that it felt convoluted. However, like I said, I'm not a mystery reader typically. And since I was reading on my Kindle, I wasn't easily able to flip back and forth to key passages to try to make more...more
Joyce Lagow
A disappointing historical novel of colonial America from the author of the Inspector Shan (set in Tibet) police procedural series. Pattison has the unfortunate tendency to get overly complicated in the way he presents his plots; the 2nd installment of the Inspector Shan series, Water touching Stone, was so tortuous that by the time I finished the book and got to the actual denouement, I had lost track of characters and situations; I know of at least one reader who simply gave up on the book an...more
Apr 13, 2011 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers
Recommended to Liz by: barnes and nobles free nookbook
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aboard a British convict ship bound for the New World, Scottish prisoner, Duncan McCallum witnesses a series of murders and seeming suicides among his fellow Scottish prisoners that thrusts him into the bloody French and Indian War. As the only man aboard with any medical training, Duncan is ordered to assemble evidence to hold another prisoner accountable for the deaths — or face punishment.

Following a strange trail of clues that seem half Iroquois and half Highland Scot, and mesmerized by th...more
This is American colonial history combined with the Scottish-English history of the same time. If you've seen the movie 'Rob Roy,' you'll recall that the English treated the defeated Scots very harshly. The reader runs into the consequences of this treatment from the first page of the book - we're introduced to Scottish prisoners being transported to the colonies to work for a specific English lord on his property in the western New York colony.

There are all kinds of plots - two people, who aren...more
#1 Duncan McCallum mystery set in Colonial America, New York state of 1750's. Duncan is a Highland Scot, once training as a doctor, now an indentured servant to the Ramsey Company, plucked from prison (where he was put for supposedly aiding the Highland rebellion) to go to the new world. When the new tutor to the Ramsey children is murdered on board the ship heading to America, Duncan is bullied into taking his place. He does so fearfully, having received a mysterious warning from his friend Ada...more
Dee Renee  Chesnut
Apr 01, 2012 Dee Renee Chesnut rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dee Renee by: Free Friday from B&N
Shelves: ebooks, 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This story takes place during the settling of the Unites States and, as the author stated, it's not based on fact. But the treatment of the Scots and the Native Americans by the British could have let to such situations.

The story line was good. But the protagonist seemed forced in many of the situation he found himself in, in order to play the observer role. And I had to read the conclusion several times in order to understand how all the pieces fit together.
ebook I wasn't sure that I was going to like this book, but it turned out to be quite enjoyable. It is set first of all at sea, on the way to the New World, and then in New York state some time after the battle of Ticonderoga. The main character is Duncan McCallum, one of two remaining members of his clan. As a prisoner, he is destined to join the forces of a wealthy landowner, Ramsey, whose daughter he saves on shipboard when she jumps overboard. Sarah Ramsey is an enigmatic character who was o...more
Elizabeth Olson
A deeply mysterious mystery novel, set in 1759 colonial America, a time and place when the "New World" and its "savage" inhabitants also seemed inpenetrably mysterious to those who want to settle and conquer this land. A series of murders on a ship traveling to America and later, in America itself, lead Duncan McCallum, head (and possibly only surviving member of) a Scottish clan and indentured servant previously trained as a doctor, to question everything about his present and future, and even...more
The author reconsiders the founding of America and explores how people of any age and place struggle to find justice, how conflicting cultures can be reconciled through compassion and tolerance, and ultimately how the natural world has its own morality. Another boring book. Too much detail and mundane reading.
Linda Smith
I agree with all the reviews about the fascinating, wonderful way this book is written and how the story really pulls you in. While I was pretty well versed in the history of the area (Hudson River valley 1759) and the alliances between the different Native American societies with the French or English, the added component of the Scottish prisoners and their treatment and alliances was new to me.

I wish the book had added a list of the Cast of Characters for reference as many were introduced at...more
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Edgar Award winning Eliot Pattison has been described as a "writer of faraway mysteries," a label which is particularly apt for someone whose travel and interests span a million miles of global trekking, visiting every continent but Antarctica. An international lawyer by training, Pattison first combined his deep concerns for the people of Tibet with his interest in fiction writing in The Skull Ma...more
More about Eliot Pattison...
The Skull Mantra (Inspector Shan, #1) Water Touching Stone (Inspector Shan, #2) Bone Mountain (Inspector Shan, #3) Beautiful Ghosts (Inspector Shan, #4) Prayer of the Dragon (Inspector Shan, #5)

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