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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Devil's Recruit (Alexander Seaton 4)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2013
This is the fourth historical thriller featuring Alexander Seaton,university teacher
and soon to be a pastor,and set in Aberdeen of the 1630's.
A well-connected student of Alexander goes missing immediately after having met in a
tavern, recruiters for soldiers for the Thirty Years War.His friend returns bloodied
and dazed and becomes a suspect.As Alexander investigates ,the plot thickens,leading
to further felonies.
The author uses her historical knowledge of the period to skilfully evoke the morality
and atmosphere of the time,as we learn about the horrors of the Thirty Years War,with
Scottish soldiers fighting for both sides. Additionally the character of Alexander
Seaton is complex as he struggles with his past misdemeanours,and with the rigid mores
of the kirk of which he is a leading member.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2013
This is the fourth novel with Alexander Seaton as its hero but it was my first introduction to him. The novel is set in Aberdeen in 1635 against the backdrop of the brutal and bitter Thirty Years War in Europe. A ship recruiting for the wars is at anchor in the river mouth, its presence casting fear over the city. When a student of Seaton's disappears and a young woman's frozen body is found hanging in the garden of a prominent citizen, Seaton is pulled into a chain of deadly events.

MacLean's portrayal of seventeenth-century Scotland is masterful and she brings the bitter religious tensions vividly to life. Seaton is a sympathetic hero, with credible conflicts and challenges. Characters from Seaton's past resurface and play a major part in the novel. For readers of the series, I believe they appeared in book one, `The Redemption of Alexander Seaton'.

There is tragedy for Seaton in `The Devil's Recruit' which I will not of course reveal. For readers who are already Seaton fans, I'm sure this book will be a welcome addition. For a novice like me, I shall be seeking out the other books in the series.

I received a free review copy of this book via the Historical Novel Society. This review (or an edited version) has appeared in the Historical Novels Review
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Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

Guest Review by Gary Shepherd for Liz Loves Books.

1635, and Europe is in the grip of the brutal territorial and religious struggle of the Thirty Years' War. Fear stalks the town of Aberdeen as a ship recruiting for the wars lies at anchor in the river mouth. A sinister figure watches from the shadows as apprehension grows and culminates in the disappearance of the son of a Highland chief - a student of Alexander Seaton. When the frozen body of a young woman is found in the garden of a prominent citizen, Alexander becomes more deeply embroiled. He realises that the figure in the shadows is known to him and has come for him. He can hide from his past no longer.

Review by Gary Shepherd.

First off and unfortunately, I've come to this fourth in the series featuring Alexander Seaton having not read the previous novels. Without giving too much away this dents the emotional wallop the ending would otherwise have had...

That being said, it was still a terrific read. The author, in common with C.J. Sansom and Hilary Mantel, manages to convey a perfect sense of the atmosphere of the period. Seaton is that best of all heroes, ultimately good but flawed, in that he doesnt discover the solution to the mysteries until they are almost presented to him. This is an unusual tale in that there are several mysteries seemingly unconnected but ultimately interwoven at the end, hence why Seaton is so confounded and doesnt see the links until its almost too late. This keeps you guessing right up until the very end.

Characterisation is excellent, the only slight downside comes again from arriving at this point, as the relationships previously drawn come to a head, with shocking results, and some of the ambience is lost due to not having those relationships in your head already. Historically speaking the author has evoked a perfect sense of the time and events in which this novel is set and this backdrop provides an extra dimension to the enjoyment of the novel.

I will definitely be going back and reading the other 3 in the series (in order) and would recommend that you start at the beginning with "The Redemption of Alexander Seaton" in order to fully appreciate this brilliantly written and evocative novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2013
I very much enjoyed the first three Alexander Seaton books, but this one was a bit of a let down. There is very little mystery involved and not a lot of plot. Also it has made me rather dislike Alexander Seaton himself. His troubles are the result of his own pompous and self-righteous principles, and if he was a little less stiff-necked the problems he encounters during the last quarter of the book would not have even existed. Therefore, I can't really sympathise with him much, especially as he proved to be such a hypocrite! The first three quarters of the book were pretty boring, and I only persevered on the strength of the previous books, which all had an interesting and intriguing story line.
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on 28 December 2014
Until now I have greatly enjoyed the books in this series, but with this fourth instalment Shona MacLean seems to have run out of steam. The historical background of the Thirty Years' War was interesting, sending me off in various directions to find out more about a period I knew little of. But sadly that was the highlight. Implausible motives, unnecessary deaths and a principal character who feels far removed from the man I thought I knew from the earlier books left me frustrated and, yes, angry, by the time the contrived dénouement arrived. It feels as if Ms MacLean has fallen out of love with Alexander Seaton, and it is no surprise that her next novel explores pastures new.
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on 28 May 2015
Like most reviewers I've read all four of the series and been intrigued by the setting - north east Scotland in the 17th century. This last book though is a really downbeat read. The chunks of history about the 30 years war are a bit indigestible, and I agree with another reviewer that the author seems to have taken a dislike to her main character. He certainly doesn't cover himself in glory and the book ends in tragedy, with our hero departing for the wilds of the far north and (possibly) never to be heard of again. I thought it was a pity to end on such a note.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2013
Very intriguing set of novel's, from 1-4 had you spellbound and could remember place names in Aberdeen. Very well written by Shona MacLean.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2013
This was the forth book in the Alexander Seaton series and every bit as good as the other three. Can't wait for no five to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2013
Another great book from Shona. I look forward to reading more in the Seaton series. I would recommend this book.
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on 11 January 2014
This is the 4th SG MacLean book I have read and I really enjoy the writing style and historical references. I am from Aberdeen and find myself having no problem imagining the places and people in these books. The writing style weaves a strong story which pulls you into the depths of it's dark and rich style.
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