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The Judge Hunter

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,130 ratings  ·  203 reviews
The latest comic novel from Christopher Buckley, a hapless Englishman embarks on a dangerous mission to the New World in pursuit of two judges who helped murder a king.

London, 1664. Twenty years after the English revolution, the monarchy has been restored and Charles II sits on the throne. The men who conspired to kill his father are either dead or disappeared. Baltasar “B
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,130 ratings  ·  203 reviews

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Sam Quixote
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
It’s 20 years after Charles II’s Restoration and the old poleaxe is still seeking revenge against the surviving men who caused his pappy’s head to be separated from his shoulders (aka the fallout from the English Civil War). Two of the judges who found Charles I guilty of high treason have fled to the New World. Naval officer and future celebrated diarist Samuel Pepys decides that his annoying half-French brother-in-law, Baltasar “Balty” St. Michel, should be the man to bring the judges back, mo ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is set in England, New England, and New Amsterdam (a.k.a. New York) of 1664 with a cast of characters of whom a significant portion are historical personages. This book brings this era to life and instills believable personalities into these historical characters.

In addition to the aforementioned historical aspects, this novel carries the unique satire craft of Christopher Buckley as he accentuates the foibles of the time which when compared to modern values border on the absurd. For
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
[P. G. Wodehouse] will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.
– Evelyn Waugh

I do not invoke the sainted name of the genius Wodehouse lightly. Yet I say to you that this book may be mentioned in the proximity of the name of the best comic writer in the English language. Although C. Buckley does not achieve the pinnacle of comic novel-ness (if that's the word I'm looking for), it is only beca
Peter Tillman
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Christopher Buckley's second venture into historical fiction, set in 1664 in England and her American colonies. A much more successful book than his last, which I didn't finish. It's a fast read, and the first 3/4 was five-star quality. As always, read the publisher's introduction in the header entry first.
The last quarter, and the ending, were less successful for me. Overall, a four star book. Recommended for Buckley and historical fiction fans. Be aware that, while there is humor, the laughs d
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Buckley’s back to historical adventures with his newest story. The idea is that he’ll write one for every century, the last one, absolutely terrific Relic Master was set in 16th, so this one takes us to 1664, the year New Amsterdam became New York, among other things. I’ve always appreciated Buckley’s writing, but ever since he’s somehow read my mind and turned his pen (keyboard) to these humorous irreverent historical romps, he’s really become something of a delight. Didn’t even nee ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Superb historical bringing to life New Amsterdam of the 1660's through the most wonderfully lively characters. This book portrays anything but dull characters seen through the lens of humour, liberally applied wherever possible. ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it liked it
In the “About the Author”note it says “This novel, set in the seventeen century, is his second work of historical fiction, following The Relic Master, set in the sixteenth century. His aim, quixotic to be sure , is to write novels set in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries and ——Grim Reaper permitting——twenty first. Good luck with that.”
Having read the Relic Master, which I thoroughly enjoyed and gave 4 stars to (see my review), I would give this one 3 and half stars. But it is
...'then they took New York!'

Another brilliant parody of history depicted by Christopher Buckley. This expose, the story of Stuvyesant and the English attainment of New York, within the context of the Dutch-English casts our eyes back in a refreshingly new way.
Samuel Pepys, his position and his diaries are the hook to begin with. His brother-in-law gives us the subtext. Baltasar “Balty” St. Michel is an annoying nincompoop whom Pepys manages to have dispatched to the new world to track down the
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Samuel Pepys has a problem. The incessant diarist of the 17th century has successfully negotiated himself into a position of minor power in the Restoration government of King Charles II after having inconveniently supported Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads in the overthrow of Charles I. Life would be reasonably tolerable if not for his wife’s brother, Balthasar, a ne’er-do-well content to sponge off Pepys as a more appealing alternative to getting and keeping a job. If only Sam could find some ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read seven novels by William F. Buckley Jr. and, until now, none by his son Christopher. Having just read The Judge Hunter, I now look forward to reading several more of the younger Buckley's books. Christopher Buckley's vocabulary and literacy are impressive; one suspects that he inherited some sort of gene for these things from his father. It is a great pleasure to read something light by someone who brings such erudition to the process of writing it. This book is a story set in 17th ce ...more
Steve Peifer
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A glorious return to form from the funniest novelist we have. No one has a greater gift for somehow making grating characters endearing. Funny and exciting and wise; you will learn history in spite of yourself. This made me want to reread so many of his other books.
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s great to read the fiction intertwined with the non fiction. The author did a great job.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Christopher Buckley is determined to write political satire for each century. His latest book The Judge Hunter places the reader in 1664, using Samuel Pepys as the mainstay and his foppish brother-in-law Balthasar (Balty) St. Michel as his tool as the story moves between London and the New England Colonies and New Amsterdam. Torys, Papists, Puritans, Quakers and numerous tribes of native Americans all find a place in this political romp.

Balty is our guide in the New World. He is a disaster who i
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this. It’s a period piece with flowery language. I particularly enjoyed the last few pages where it discussed the characters descendants. Amusing.
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I’ve read recently. Combines impeccably written and factually grounded historical fiction with action and humor. The interweaving of Pepys diary entries and the story of his brother in law searching New Haven and New York in the mid seventeenth century for fugitives from England is just plain fascinating and fun. Highly recommended. There are not enough books like this out ther.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quick and diverting might almost call it a 'smart romp.' Particularly fun for New Englanders to read about our distant past: the Natives vs Puritans vs Quakers vs Popists. More than a few smiles and chuckles in Buckley's inimitable style. ...more
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Buckley writes with a delightful blend of adventure and humor, action and sin. I was thoroughly entertained. The story is about a swashbuckling hero traveling through New England with a bumbling companion during the run-up to the Second Anglo-Dutch War. A lot happens on their journey from Boston to New Amsterdam, some fun, some tragic. However, the overall journey is entertaining.

The novel begins with two unlikable characters. Samuel Pepys is an arrogant bureaucrat positioned in the logistical s
Tim Healy
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fun, but rather bizarre piece of historical fiction. It's a speculative take of the "bloodless" taking of New Amsterdam from the Dutch and creation of New York. It includes side trips through much of Connecticut, New Haven (which was a separate colony at the time, and Massachusetts. There's also a side-trip to Long Island. The man who gets the story started is Samuel Pepys, who at the time was the man responsible for the finances of the English Navy. He decides to take care of his anno ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Samuel Pepy's diary is the starting point for this romp of an historical novel. Buckley has a lot of fun with the horrible Puritans, the scary Quiripi tribe and the unscrupulous Dutch of New England, weaving in a tale of romance and regicide pursuit as he solves the mystery of what happened to Whalley and Goffe, the two judges who escaped punishment and fled England after Cromwell's death. ...more
Richard G. Peters
Very interesting and educational read.

Most entertaining I read it in two days. great walk through the past. The book is very well written and features a cast of characters that will have you bursting out laughing. It’s a terrific book. Don’t pass it by....
Meredith Eriksen
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun read, as Mr. Buckley's books usually are. But required reading for anyone hailing from the Connecticut/New York area - although some creative license was taken with the main characters - this was a fun way to refresh/learn history of the area. ...more
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! I was hooked from the very first page on seeing an entry from the diary of Mr. Pepys. The journals of Mr. Pepys have played such an important work in both fiction and non fiction, that it’s about time someone gave him a starring role....and I love that he was made into a philanderer!
As for Balty, one reader compared him to one of my favourite literary characters of all time....Bertie Wooster! Spot on!
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fun-to-read book. Four stars for humor and good storytelling.
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Took me a while to read this one, but I really love Buckley's historical fiction. I thought this was entertaining, informative, and really witty. ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buckley has never disappointed me, and maintains that track record with The Judge Hunter. Part historical parody, part historical satire, part historical farce. 99% funny (the historical nuggets about colonial massacres of Native Americans, not so much) and educational to boot.
Jill Elizabeth
Apr 20, 2018 marked it as done-with
I have long been a fan of Christopher Buckley - I met him at a book signing years and years ago, and he's absolutely as delightful and wry in person as you'd imagine from reading his books and/or columns. I usually fly through his books - his particular brand of snarky wit resonates with me and the characters he devises are always appealing and entertaining (even when they're decidedly dastardly). This story, however, just couldn't grab me... It may be because I find the time period/topic of Res ...more
Kathleen Gray
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although I think it helps tremendously in the enjoyment of this if you have at least a smidgen of knowledge about the 17th century, Buckley will back you into the period with humor and style (and there's wikipedia for the details.). Who would expect a comic take on Samuel Pepys' brother in law Balty being sent to the New World to track down two judges who fled there after ordering the execution of Charles I? Balty's travels through America brings him slam up against the untamed world (at least i ...more
Shala Howell
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I loved a lot of things about this book. The story was light-hearted and fun (despite the grisly deaths of a few characters), and the writing reminded me at time of Wodehouse. I was fully prepared to give this book four stars, until...

Near the end Buckley slips into the head of Repent, a Native American character converted to Christianity by one of the colonists. We're only there for a couple of pages. The first few paragraphs are ok, but then the writing changes. It recaps the story to date fro
Mark Taylor
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
When Christopher Buckley published The Relic Master in late 2015, it was a change of pace for him. Most of Buckley’s novels have been set in contemporary Washington, D.C., and satirized aspects of the national government. The Relic Master, however, was set in the Holy Roman Empire of the 16th century. Buckley’s signature sharp humor was still on full display throughout the book, which I reviewed here. The question was if The Relic Master was a one-off, or a new direction for Buckley. It seems to ...more
J.D. DeHart
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley is a historical novel, tried-and-true. The book even ends with a reference list and historical notes. This was a pleasant encounter for me, as a reader, and lent credibility to the book. Clearly, Buckley is an author who invests time in his work, and I appreciate that trait in an author.

The storyline of the book proves comic at times, but also strikingly realistic and engaging. This is my second time reading Buckley's work and I will return for a third hel
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Christopher Buckley graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1976. He shipped out in the Merchant Marine and at age 24 became managing editor of Esquire magazine. At age 29, he became chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Since 1989 he has been founder and editor-in-chief of Forbes Life magazine.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Good

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