Against the historic backdrop of West Point and the Hudson River valley surrounding it, author Andra Watkins again pens another historic thriller in the vein of her first novel, To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriweather Lewis.
With Hard to Die (2016, Word Hermit Press) the first in a series she calls the “Nowhere Series,” we enter the lives two historical figures whose disappearances remain shrouded and in mystery and debate, Theodosia Burr Alston the daughter of Aaron Burr, the Vice President of the United States who was presumed dead in a shipwreck and Richard Cox, a West Point cadet, who vanished meeting a man named “George” in January 1950.
Theo exists in “Nowhere” a world between total life and total death that she will not escape until her death is solved or she completes a “Nowhere assignment” that she already failed three times and as we met her she is in hot pursuit of General James Wilkinson, an early American soldier and statesman, that Alston believes is responsible for her son’s death and her father’s final disgrace. But that pursuit is temporarily interrupted by her “conductor” who gives her a new assignment to help someone that Theo will know only when she finds then.
In the midst then of Theo’s continued pursuit of Wikinson she encounters West Point Cadet Richard Cox who is being pursued to return to the life of a spy by a mysterious man named “George.” The result is a turbulent, passionate, and fast paced tale of two people who are trying to find answers to questions about their past, their present, and their future while trying to stay ahead of death.
As with To Live Forever, Watkins again spins a tale of intrigue and uncertainty while keeping the reader on edge while the characters seek to find the truth and resolve their dilemmas. As she does, meaning of purpose, resolution of conflict, and deep passion are intertwined as both Theo and Cox seek solace and help in the other all the while trying to figure out who is really who!
This was a wonderful read. Again Watkins use imagery and writing that is reminiscent of both Poe and Hawthorne and she continues to use historical mysteries as a source to weave together some wonderful and fantastic plots in which the issues and trials of life and, this reviewer adds, faith, hope, and love are addressed.
A great novel for college/university literature classes as well as library reading groups and those who enjoy historical fiction with a twist.
I gave this book a four-star rating on Goodreads.
Note: I bought a Kindle edition of this book and chose to write a review of it.