Format Hardcover
Publication Date 09/15/15
ISBN 9781605988610
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 352

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The Constable's Tale

A Novel of Colonial America

Donald Smith

Set in a tumultuous period that helped to forge a nation, a riveting mystery that takes a volunteer constable through the wilds of colonial North Carolina to track down a shadowy killer

When a traveling peddler discovers the murder of a farm family in colonial North Carolina whose bodies have been left in bizarre positions, circumstances point to an Indian attack. But Harry Woodyard, a young planter who is the volunteer constable of Craven County during a period in America's past when there was no professional police force, finds clues that seem to indicate otherwise. The county establishment wants to blame the crime on a former inhabitant, an elderly Indian who has suddenly reappeared in the vicinity like an old ghost. But he is a person to whom Harry owes much.

Defying the authorities, Harry goes off on his own to find the real killer. His investigation takes him up the Atlantic seacoast and turns into a perilous hunt for even bigger quarry that could affect the future of Britain in the American continent.

Donald Smith is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, broadcaster, and radio-TV producer. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune. He was executive co-producer of Radio Expeditions, the DuPont Award-winning National Geographic-National Public Radio production heard on NPR's Morning Edition. See his website for more information:

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Donald Smith’s exceptional first novel is a revelatory look at colonial America. In unmasking a villain, the investigation also provides insights into the surprisingly worldly ways of our colonial ancestors.” New York Times Book Review
“Fans of Eliot Pattison’s Bone Rattler series (Soul of the Fire, etc.) will relish Smith’s impressive debut. Smith balances historical detail and a twisty whodunit plot like a veteran.” Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Through detailed descriptions of characters and setting, readers can easily imagine early American life and its shifting governance. Compares well with the Bone Rattler series by Eliot Pattison or the Smithyman saga by David More.” Booklist
“Top-notch historical fiction, authentic in character and setting, laced with a mystery and a bit of international intrigue, right up the whipsaw conclusion.” Kirkus Reviews
“In The Constable’s Tale, Donald Smith delivers a captivating blend of political intrigue, mystery, and romance set during the closing months of the French and Indian War. Read it for its suspense, for its many surprises, and for its insight into early American colonial life. But read it foremost because Smith’s debut novel is a fast-paced romp, a beautifully spun tale.” Gary Schanbacher, author of the Spur Award-winning Crossing Purgatory
“Rich in historical details and character. Smith’s writing is well-paced, and his attention to historical detail is such that it does not overwhelm the reader, but still brings colonial America alive.” Historical Novels Review
“Set in colonial North Carolina with a cast of authentic and endearing characters, including Harry Woodyard, a tobacco planter and the volunteer constable of Craven County, and his outspoken Welsh wife, Toby. Harry is a wonderful blend of naiveté and no-nonsense, compassion and reason, and his tale's an intriguing one.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Constable’s Tale is the best first novel I’ve read in a long while. Lyrical and tough and suspenseful and set in a time and place that’s been little explored in fiction, especially detective fiction, but which Donald Smith brings alive with clarity and vibrancy and a muscular authority. A first-rate novel.” Edgar and Shamus Award-winning author James W. Hall
“Rich with historical details and surprising turns, The Constable’s Tale, a story of murder, love and loyalty, is an outstanding debut.” Barbara Corrado Pope, author of The Missing Italian Girl and Cezanne's Quarry
“A yarn that combines the hue and scope of James Fenimore Cooper with the taut suspense of Elmore Leonard.” John Smolens, author of 'The Schoolmaster's Daughter'
“Historical fiction at its best. I have read many books about America’s history, but this blood-curdling murder-mystery, set in 18th century North-Carolina, with America at the brink of the Revolutionary War, taught me a lot. Stylish, exciting, and packed with historical insight.” Bob Van Laerhoven, author of 'Baudelaire's Revenge'
“With its intrepid detective, skillful plotting, colorful characters, action and rich period detail, Donald Smith's novel is sure to please fans of historical mystery.” Gary Inbinder, author of 'The Devil in Montmartre'