It is 1642, and Laurence Beaumont has just returned to England after six long years fighting -- and avoiding fighting -- in the European Wars. Having fled his home to escape the responsibilities of his noble birthright, he has been a lowly infantryman in Spain, a spy for the Germans, and a cardsharp in a Dutch brothel. He has seen horrors visited upon men, women, and children by enemy and ally alike, and he no longer has faith in God, in causes, or even in humankind itself.
As the clashes between King Charles I and his mutinous Parliament come to a crisis and England is thrown into civil war, a reluctant Beaumont is drawn back into the world of warfare and intrigue when he discovers coded letters outlining a plot to assassinate the king. Soon the conspirators -- one of whom is among the most powerful men in the kingdom -- are in hot pursuit, and Beaumont must find proof of their identities before they overtake him. Pressed into service by the secretary of state's ruthless spymaster, Beaumont finds himself threatened on all sides, facing imprisonment, torture, and worse if he makes a single wrong step. The ravishing Isabella Savage, a practiced seducer, wants to help, but may only lead him deeper into the conspiracies within the king's camp. And all the while Beaumont is haunted by a prophecy and by the memory of a devastating betrayal.
The Best of Men brings to vibrant, realistic, and bawdy life the battlefields, taverns, and aristocratic bedrooms of the 17th century. Laurence Beaumont is an unforgettable character, and Claire Letemendia is a dazzling storyteller.
Toronto, ON : McClelland & Stewart, 2009
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