Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bone Rattler (Duncan McCallum, #1)” as Want to Read:
Bone Rattler (Duncan McCallum, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bone Rattler (Duncan McCallum #1)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  1,114 ratings  ·  166 reviews
In a novel rich in historical detail, acclaimed author Eliot Pattison reconsiders the founding of America and explores how disenfranchised 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.
Aboard a British convict ship bound for the Ne
ebook, 381 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Counterpoint LLC (first published 2007)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bone Rattler, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bone Rattler

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,612)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
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
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
Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)
I had a lot of trouble with this, and nearly gave up on it.

In short, there's a lot of racism, and I'm not entirely convinced it's all the racism of the characters. The protagonist, Duncan McCallum, is a convict transported from Britain to the New York colony in 1759, and he has the prejudices one might expect of someone completely unfamiliar with the American natives. But as his vision is expanded and he learns how little he originally knew, there's too much of the "noble savage" in the natives
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
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
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
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
Steve Cline
I discovered this series through the 3rd book Original Death in a library display of historical mysteries; I began reading that one and liked the first 40 pages so well I decided to start with first book in the series. It has Native and Scot characters dealing with being a persecuted but useful minority under British rule, as well as insight into the conflicts and intersections of the various religious & spiritual traditions of the characters. The hero uses both scientific training and insig ...more
Bone Rattler is the first book I have ever read by Eliot Pattison. It is the first book in his "A Mystery of Colonial America" series. I enjoyed the story, but sometimes found it hard to follow the mystery of the mysterious young woman. However, I not only stuck with this book to the end, I went on to read the rest of the three-book series, and highly recommend this series. I cannot wait to get my hands on more books by Eliot Pattison.

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.
The premise of this book sounded so good: Duncan, a Scottish man, is brought to Colonial America as a British prisoner. One man dies on the ship over and another, who is supposed to be tutor to the children of a wealthy man, is killed. Duncan was training to be a doctor so is told that he will replace the tutor and also must find who killed the real tutor.

The author keeps adding more details and mysteries without solving any until the last 20 pages of a 400+ page book. By then you don't even ca
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. I actually re-read it immediately after finishing it, partly because I enjoyed the writing so much and partly because it had so much to it that I wanted to make sure I took it all in. It is complicated because it describes a complicated time in the New World. So many different people needing and wanting different things and speaking completely different languages with very different assumptions about how the world is or should be. Even so, significa ...more
Lesley Alstrand
I don't LOVE any of the characters, but the main character is very likable. What I do love is that the mystery does not have an immediately obvious solution (in which case I would really have to love the character to keep reading). I also love that the author made an effort to do some research on the emotions and feelings of that time regarding race relations not only between the native Americans but between the English, French, and Scots in the area too. I will probably keep reading the series ...more

Could not put book down. First rate mystery that takes place during a time period in the forming of our country that is not well known. Hope this is the beginning of a series as the combination of a Scottish clan chief, an indentured slave to the Crown, Sara, a young woman raised by an Iroquois shaman, and their Indian friend, raised by the Jesuits and the last of his tribe, gives Pattison trails to follow into the mysteries that place during this unexplored time.
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
#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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 87 88 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Phantom of Pemberley
  • County Line
  • The Blue Light Project
  • Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World
  • Dark Legacy
  • Summer of Fire (Yellowstone, #1)
  • The Front Porch Prophet
  • First, There Is a River (Spirit of the River, #1)
  • The Hunt
  • 1936... On the Continent
  • Moscow Sting (Anna Resnikov, #2)
  • Pets in a Pickle
  • From the Ashes
  • Dead Politician Society (Clare Vengel Undercover, #1)
  • Winston's War (Winston Churchill #1)
  • The Devil's Cradle (Kendall O'Dell #2)
  • Heart of the Witch
  • Listen
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 about Eliot Pattison...

Other Books in the Series

Duncan McCallum (3 books)
  • Eye of the Raven (Duncan McCallum, #2)
  • Original Death (Duncan McCallum, #3)
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)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »