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The Blue Cloak

(True Colors)

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  222 ratings  ·  199 reviews
Based on real events beginning in 1797 Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friends wedding only to watch it dissolve in horror as the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a war on all humanity, the Harpes ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2020 by Barbour Books
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Shannon McNear Thank you for asking! The main fictional storyline contains a romance, and no, where that is concerned, there's nothing more explicit. HOWEVER, and…moreThank you for asking! The main fictional storyline contains a romance, and no, where that is concerned, there's nothing more explicit. HOWEVER, and here's where the "true crime" aspect comes in...the actual historical storyline includes sexual assault and abuse, so if you're very sensitive to such details, consider skipping this one! I did my best to keep most of that off-screen, or as part of narrative flashback, but there are a couple of places where a smidgen of detail was necessary for the story.(less)
Shannon McNear It depends upon how you define that. See my reply to the previous question. This book is definitely for more mature readers.

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I thought this was going to have more romantic suspense and less gory details of criminal activity, but I was mistaken and let down. However, it was interesting to read about this period of time on the frontier. The Harpes are psychopathic murderers and I want to erase some of the details of their killings from my memory. Ben and Rachel were sweethearts, but the emphasis was mostly on the Harpes.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a fair and
Deanne Patterson
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Deanne by:
I have read and enjoy all of the books in the True Colors series. It's a fictional series based off of true crime happenings in the past.
This one dealt with some tough subjects and didn't play out as I expected it to.
It was interesting to read the author's notes in the back of the book explaining the story based on fact and read about it more in depth. Not for the faint of heart there is brutality and a crime spree. Get ready for edge of your seat action.

Published March 1st 2020 by Barbour Books
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
The history brought to light in the True Colors Series has been fascinating. The Blue Cloak takes readers back to 1797 Tennessee and a spree of crimes by two relatives (there is debate if the two men were brothers or cousins) that were heinous. The author does a spectacular job of painting the setting. Historical figures and facts are brought to life in the words of the novel.

While the details of the crimes are carefully penned, the brutality described is difficult to read and there is one part
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

Amazing story of the horrendously dark trail of murder that followed the Harpe Brothers in the late 1790's.I have found this series of true crimes, True Colors:Historical Series of American Crimes to be intriguing.

McNear's historical research and attention to detail is apparent in this fictional account. I found the historical setting of the frontier of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee in the late 1790's to be fascinating. McNear's skill as a storyteller brings light in the form of
Karen R
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A riveting tale based on a real eighteenth century crime spree. Not for the faint of heart, as this well researched story includes some grizzly murders and violence, with just enough detail to imagine the terror and evil of the pair responsible. Yet in the midst of it all there is still a light of hope and faith, plus a tender romance.

For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

The Blue Cloak
By: Shannon McNear

*REVIEW* ☆☆☆☆
I have a strange association with The Blue Cloak. I like the story, but I also hate the story. The premise of this one is very compelling, dramatic and intriguing, especially if, like me, you have never heard of America's first serial killers, the Harpe brothers. This is their story, but, thankfully, the author describes the horrible
Susan F
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The True Colors series are fictionalized accounts of true crime stories. I have read each book in the series as crime stories are some of the things that interest me. The Blue Cloak is based on the Harpe duo who are believed to be the first serial killers in the United States. I can not imagine the angst author Shannon McNear endured when agreeing to write, then actually researching historical records to glean information for this book. It is an horrendous story of two sick, perverse and evil ...more
I have enjoyed this series very much which is based on true crimes, but this one was very dark and gritty. The brutalities committed by the two brothers in this story definitely made me cringe throughout this story. Serial killers are difficult to understand and even harder to read about. McNear's obvious research shows throughout the book and is detailed in the epilogue. Using not only historical tools but also genealogical tools to make sure her work was as accurate as possible must have been ...more
Paula Shreckhise
Kudos to Shannon McNear for tackling a difficult subject of serial killers in 1797 America. This is part of the series True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime by Barbour Publishing. I give this more than 5 stars!
The research into these events was extensive and thorough. Ms. McNear has done justice to the rein of terror committed by the Harpes along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She balances it nicely with the romance of Rachel Taylor, daughter of a Way Station owner and Ben
Warning: I would not recommend this book to younger or sensitive readers due to the nature of the crimes mentioned in this book. Even though the author gave just enough information (no detailed description) it could still be too much for certain readers.

Even though this book was about serial killers and their crimes, the author did a great job of balancing the dark crimes with hope and faith through Racheal and Ben.

My heart broke for Sally and the situation she found herself in. There was one
Claire Y
Compelling! Absorbing!

"The Blue Cloak" is a fictional story based on true events. A riveting tale of what seems to be America's first serial killers. It is also an unfortunate tale of how physical and psychological abuse can be the shackles that bind the victims to their abusers.

A great five star read in my opinion. Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways and Amazon for a digital ARC of this book.
Cathy Cermele
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The True Colors-Historical Stories of American Crime has become one of my favorite series which is penned by different authors. They have all contained elements of a love story but have a grittier side to them, too.
The Blue Cloak is much more on the gritty side than I expected but that was fine because it heightened the desperation and the plight that Sally Rice faced with her new husband shortly after they were married.

Needless to say her marriage got off to a horrendous start as she moves in
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was my first read by Shannon McNear and I thought it was a very well-written story about the Harpe brothers and quite possibly the first known serial killers in the U.S. I loved how detailed the author was at the ending of her book with regards to the research for this book. I was drawn to this story because of the prior reviews that I saw on Goodreads. The characters were well-drawn, I liked the characters of Rachel Taylor and Ben Langford and how they formed a friendship through their ...more
Denise Weimer
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
What happens when a triumph turns into a tragedy? Thats what daughter of a Baptist preacher Sally Rice Roberts (aka Harpe) must face when her recently baptized groom takes her home to a nightmare. The younger brother (or cousin) of Micajah Harpe, Wiley hasnt been honest with Sally. The two men drag three women through an ever-escalating spree of robbery and murder in Tennessee and Kentucky as they evade posses out for justice in the waning days of the eighteenth century.

The Blue Cloak is told
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear is part of the True Colours series. It is a Christian historical novel and set in 1797.
Shannon McNear has woven her tale around true facts that are horrifying and evil. The novel concerns two serial killers who raped, tortured and murdered, spreading terror all around. They were depraved with three wives between them who were forced to stay through fear.
The atmosphere of terror has been perfectly captured by Shannon McNear as she relates a time of pure evil. This
Karen Kay
I received this from for a review.

"Based on real events beginning in 1797 Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friends wedding only to watch it dissolve in horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin become murderers on the run, who drag their families along."

The True Colors series are fictionalized accounts of true crime stories. Nicely written story. The footnote was
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
A redemptive telling of a truly horrifying tale. I was not at all familiar with this historical crime spree. I appreciated the way the story was unfolded as it built to the terrors that were to come. While Rachel and Ben are the romantic focus, and they have a precious story of their own, a lot of the plot focused on her friend, Sally and her firsthand experience of the cousins evil rampage. I appreciated that full descriptions were not given, but rather implied. There were a few times I felt my ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this series!!! It combines my favorite things - true crime, historical fiction, and Christian fiction. I highly recommend picking up all the books in this series. You won't be disappointed!
Lisa Johnson
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Title: The Blue Cloak (True Colors)
Author: Shannon McNear
Pages: 256
Year: 2020
Publisher: Barbour
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
The Blue Cloak is not a read for those who find it difficult to read about horrific, tragic but historically true tales of crimes committed. The author did do a good job writing a tale with the facts she discovered about the Harpe brothers in the year 1797. The story takes place in Tennessee when Rachel attends her friends wedding to one of the Harpe brothers; yet, there is
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: celebrate-lit
Wow. Just wow. This whole series has been wonderful and I knew this book would be too. I did not however quite expect it to be as dark as it was. There is abuse in this book and some graphic violence. While it's not detailed you should still be aware it's in here.

This book like the rest of the series is based on true crimes in history and it's a fast and furious type read. Within the pages, you'll find two "brothers" who have three wives between them, though they're not really wives. They also
Kristi Drillien
(3.5 / 5)

In the wilds of Tennessee and Kentucky in the late 1700s, Rachels newly married close friend gets caught up in a nightmare. Sallys groom and his cousin, Big and Little Harpe, become outlaws and leave a trail of destruction, dragging their family along with them. Rachel is worried for her friend, as well as for her new acquaintance Ben Langford. Ben came to the frontier to keep his cousin out of danger, but sadly discovered that Thomas was one of the Harpes first known victims. Now he
Erin Laramore
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars for this True Colors novel on the Harpe brothers, known as the first American serial killers. This tale is disturbing, to be sure, but the author shares the gruesome details only in a detatched manner of one filing a police report - not with the intensity and emotion of the actual killer or the first upon the scene. For that reason, though the subject matter is gory and disturbing, the reading of this book is not likely to issue nightmares or other such sensitivities. Though I would ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
"And I'll be praying for you, every day". . . . . . . . . . ."Who was he to this girl, that she should care? But he'd likely need every one of those prayers."

Benjamin Langford covets the prayers of a young way station owner's daughter as he departs on a journey to avenge the murder of his cousin; joining a posse determined to bring the notorious Harpe brothers to trial, he fears the outcome will never be able to erase the regret that he feels over letting Thomas travel on ahead of him.
Carolyn Bryant
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Cloak, set on the Wilderness Road in the Cumberland Mountain area of Tennessee and Kentucky in the late 1700s, fictionally chronicles the horrific murders and mayhem perpetrated by real- life serial killers Wiley and Micajah Harpe and their abusive relationships with their captive wives. Alongside the dark story runs the romance story of fictional characters Rachel Taylor and Ben Langford. This thread of romance helps to lighten the weight of the narrative and its descriptions of the ...more
Carol Custer
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wasn't familiar with this crime spree and it's obvious the author did a great deal of research on the topic. The pacing of the narrative is rather slow but the characters are interesting. The story seems part mystery, part romance novel, and part western - but it all comes together nicely.

There is a lot of violence and the overall feeling of the book (to me) is sadness. It was horrifying what Sally went through and the reign of terror from the brothers was creepy and gruesome.

A good book for
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is part of the True Colors - Historical Stories of American Crime series. The story here covers the first American serial killers. In 1797 in Tennessee, two brothers/cousins, Big and Small Harpe, begin a killing spree that has no rhyme or reason. They also kidnap and hold two women as their "wives," while Small legitimately marries the daughter of a minister and brings her into their "family." Her friend Rachel fears for the bride's safety. The story follows Rachel, the killers, and ...more
Jennifer K
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shannon McNear really tackled tough true crime and I was hooked. There is no doubt that the crimes and violence committed by these two individuals was horrific. But in this story, there were also people willing to stand up, sacrifice and fight against evil. As the search for these criminals went on, I found myself caught up in the suspense and turning pages fast. The community soon realized the necessity of prayer and McNear wove short natural prayers throughout the story wonderfully. I liked ...more
An interesting historical novel

This book was rich in the history it told. Times were much different then but people unfortunately are still people. A wonderful story, well written.
Pamela Small
My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

True crime meets historical fiction - riveting! Ive always been fascinated with history and learning anew truths of the past. The Blue Cloak sheds light on a dark and grisly period in the 18th century, describing the first serial killers in these new United States of America circa 1780. Riveting with horrifyingly details, The Blue Cloak chronicles the swath of destruction and evil perpetrated
Best In Suspense - Kelly Underwood
I have enjoyed the True Color series, which takes crime stories from Americas past and creates a story around the events. The Blue Cloak is set in the late 1700s in the American frontier. Rachel Taylors friend Sally marries a man with questionable reputation. Rachels instincts are correct, and Wiley Harpe and his brother turn out to be serial killers and take Sally and several other women into the frontier. The women are mistreated while the two men randomly attacked and killed innocent ...more
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Shannon has been writing one thing or another since third grade and finished her first novel at age fifteenbut waited more than thirty years for her first book contract. In the meantime, she graduated from high school, attended college, met and married her husband, birthed nine children, lost one, taught five to drive, revised that first story innumerable times, and completed six others.

Her first

Other books in the series

True Colors (9 books)
  • The White City (True Colors)
  • The Pink Bonnet
  • The Yellow Lantern
  • The Gray Chamber
  • The Green Dress
  • The Black Midnight
  • The Red Ribbon
  • The Gold Digger

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