THE CROWNS VENGANCE
by Andrew Clawson
For 300 years, America has been under assault, the enemy silent, unseen.
In the august halls of the Ivy League, a scholar uncovers shocking evidence of an unimaginable betrayal.
Professor Erika Carr uncovers a Revolutionary era espionage report, lost for centuries in a cache of Alexander Hamilton's private documents. Dr. Carr is stunned when she discovers the intelligence reports were authored by Paul Revere. A clue hidden within the message suggests a second missive exists, waiting to be found.
Parker Chase joins her on a journey that leads to astonishing revelations about a centuries old conspiracy to destroy American independence. On Revere's trail, they are attacked by a murderous syndicate of international powerbrokers intent on silencing them forever. Running for their lives, Parker and Erika must outwit an invisible enemy while unraveling a conspiracy that stretches from the morally bankrupt halls of Wall Street to oil-soaked sands in the Middle East. Locked in a struggle for their lives, they fight to reveal an unthinkable secret, the fate of a nation hanging in the balance.
October 31, 1781
Footsteps echoed off towering stone walls as a solitary figure strode through the cavernous hall. Ahead, framed by a roaring fire, a portly man sat at an enormous desk, chin held heavily in the palm of one hand. White curls draped across a wrinkled skull to cover each ear, the powdered wig a brilliant white in the flickering light cast by dozens of candles.
None of this assembled warmth penetrated the gloom that hung heavily around the rotund figure. In the midst of an unprecedented crisis, he longed for a ray of hope to brighten his perilous situation.
“I bring news from the latest ship.”
The seated man stared downward as a deep sigh escaped his lips.
“Our messengers bear distressing reports, sir. Cornwallis has surrendered.”
Time stood still as the diminutive man rose. Though short in stature, his presence exploded throughout the room.
“That is not possible.” Spittle flew through the air. “These, these commoners could not have defeated us. There must be some mistake.”
“Alas, sire, it is true. Cornwallis capitulated to the rebels only days ago. His entire army is lost.”
George III, King of Great Britain and Ireland, stood in silence, words having failed him. From behind the thick walls of Buckingham Palace, George III had little notion of his armies’ precarious foothold in America. Unaccustomed to American ferocity, the proud English desire to fight for king and country had steadily eroded, until the most recent defeat. Eight thousand of England’s finest men had laid down their arms and surrendered.
The notion was unthinkable.
However, Lord Ramsey Fawkes, Third Earl of Wroxton, did not dwell on the defeat. As one of the king’s closest advisors, he had long practiced the fine art of diplomacy with his liege lord, carefully crafting his statements to manipulate the sovereign, though the foolhardy little man was quite incapable of recognizing this skillful deceit.
“Your majesty, there is yet a chance for us to secure victory.”
King George focused on the earl, his eyes pleading. Fawkes felt nothing but disgust. Resplendent in his citrine cloak cut from the finest silk, an imposing ceremonial sword on his hip, the divine leader of the most powerful nation on Earth was helpless. Exactly as Fawkes had known he would be.
“There is little to be done with the colonies, Your Majesty. In your great wisdom, you will no doubt see fit to forgo our direct assaults on those wretched lands in favor of a more subtle approach.”
Lord Fawkes glanced around. They were alone in the king’s massive study, free from any prying ears.
He leaned in and described his plan to King George, whose eyes first clouded with confusion, before the light of understanding dawned.
After a brief pause, King George voiced his approval.
“We shall bring those colonists to their knees. Prepare your man to depart at once. The necessary funds are at your disposal.”
“As you command, your majesty.”
Fawkes bowed deeply before turning on his heel.
Now that his ridiculous excuse for a king had agreed to fund the operation, it was only a matter of time before the glory of England was restored, the rebellious colonists crushed beneath the fearsome weight of St. George’s Cross.
A never ending line of motorcars crawled down the street, headlights shining rheumily in the evening gloom. Soot-stained clouds overhead stopped any sunlight from reaching the dry street, dusty and dirty beneath a yellowish haze cast by omnipresent streetlamps. Should a fog have rolled in, one wouldn’t have been remiss to expect a horse-drawn carriage to appear from within the golden glow. All in all, it was a typical London evening, pedestrians and commuters alike moving slowly through the humid summer air.
Inside his office at No. 11 Downing Street, The Right Honorable Roland Francis Sutton leaned back in his desk chair and stretched his palms skyward. An entire day’s worth of tension tingled past his elbows, dozens of bureaucratic nightmares evaporating like the morning dew.
As chancellor of the exchequer, one had to know how to relax in order to survive. Tasked with overseeing the world’s sixth largest economy, Sir Roland directly affected the finances of nearly sixty-three million citizens.
Unsurprisingly, some of these people didn’t like him.
He’d spent the day in meetings with his junior ministers, offering advice when necessary, allowing them to chart their own course more often. Regardless of what decisions he made, what policies were passed or which taxes were lowered, there was nothing to be done about the constant vitriolic displeasure to which he was routinely subjected.
Today had been no exception, and it was with great enthusiasm that Her Majesty’s faithful servant traitorously poured two fingers of Mr. Jack Daniels finest Single Barrel whiskey into a crystal tumbler, the velvety smooth amber liquid clinging to its vessel, aromatic waves of charred oak and flowery vanilla warming his senses.
After allowing a moment for the blend to settle, he savored one sip.
A marvelous slow burn rolled down his throat. A dinner appointment with his wife was on the books tonight, and he relished the idea of spending several carefree hours in her company.
Sir Roland had assumed his position less than a year ago, a promotion that surprised him more than anyone. After the retirement of his predecessor, Roland had assumed, like most of the world, that another junior minister, Colin Moore, would be chosen as successor. The prime minister’s call had come as a complete and total shock. His wife and family had been ecstatic, as had he, initially.
Looking back, he’d never quite shaken the image of the previous minister leaving office on his last day. He’d walked out, carrying a single photo of his family, and never looked happier.
Right now, Roland knew why.
He was honored, of course, to serve queen and country, though in private, he felt this to be the most thankless job on earth. Just as in physics, there were laws in the world of economics. The most basic was that when one person profited, another person did not. Every day men, businesses, lobbyists, and other sovereign governments cursed his name, only to praise his policies the next. He had little to do with any of it, as beholden to the whims of a free market as any man. Certainly he could influence events in small ways, but as for pulling the strings like a puppeteer, that just wasn’t possible.
But enough of this. He had a dinner to enjoy.
A million-dollar view jumped through the tinted office windows. St. James Park Lake to his rear, the Thames in front. A cornucopia of English pride surrounded him. As Roland threw back his glass and drained the delicious American whiskey, a flash of red blinked into existence, sparkling rays distorted across the crystal tumbler. It came from straight across Downing Street, on the roof of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
His eyes narrowed. No one should be up there.
The last sound Sir Roland ever heard was the soft tinkle of breaking glass as a sniper’s bullet ripped through the window in front of him.
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AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW
-What draws you to your genre of choice?
I’ve always enjoyed reading about the past, and been blessed (or cursed) with an active imagination. When I have a new book in front of me, as I’m moving through the chapters, a parallel narrative has always played out in my head, a kind of what would I do here storyline that often as not diverges completely from the words on the page.
After a few thousand of these, I decided that it might be time to put one on paper. Little did I realize that what sounded like a slam-dunk bestseller in my head was far from it, and it was only after years of trial and error that I felt comfortable putting what I’d created out for all to see. I never realized how scary it can be, sharing what you’ve written with the world Even now, after a few years and three-plus books into it, I’ll still kick myself for mistakes I made in a story, places I believe that it could be changed to make the tale flow more smoothly or the surprise jump of the page with a bit more intensity. Realizing that your work is never done can be both discouraging and a strength, but one thing I am positive about is that it’s an exhausting, rewarding process that changes every day.
-What’s a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book?
That’s easy. I was shocked to learn that Blackbeard blockaded the town of Charlestown, SC in May 1718. That blew my mind. A major colonial port was effectively shut down by a pirate for two straight weeks. Even though that was almost three centuries ago, the fact that a single man (accompanied by his flotilla, but still) could take control of a shipping hub under the control of the British Empire sounds impossible, but it’s true. Even more interesting? Why he did it. Sorry, but no spoilers here. Look it up, I promise you’ll be glad you did.
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
Realize that it’s not going to happen overnight, and write every single day. When you make it a habit, even if it’s just an hour a day, you’ll eventually reach those two magic words. THE END. Trust me, there’s nothing like it. Until, of course, you read through what you’ve jotted down and inevitably tear it to pieces. But hey, that’s part of the game. A writer has to understand that often it’s not the most talented wordsmith who gets their novel finished, it’s the one with the iron bottom and stubbornness of a geriatric mule who reaches the finish line with their sanity intact.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I’d have to say fantasy. Though I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan, I can’t fathom how people craft these intricate, involved, seemingly endless worlds in which anything goes and the only limits are those of their imagination. I give them all the credit in the world for being able to keep things straight as they muddle through 150,000 words (or more!), and keep the narrative flowing. I only wish I had that kind of talent and mental fortitude.
I’ve written three novels, which in order are A Patriot’s Betrayal, The Crowns Vengeance and Dark Tides Rising. My goal as a writer is to entertain, excite, and possibly educate you, the reader. With every novel, I hope I've accomplished at least one of those goals. The opportunity to share my love of history and blend fact with fiction is what inspired my writing, and I hope that I’ve blurred the lines just enough so that you can’t tell where the truth ends and the story begins. If I can pull it off, it just might get a few more people interested in the past, even if they were up late finishing just one more chapter.
When I'm not writing or at my day job, I enjoy reading works of fiction, watching sports and enjoying life in my home state of Pennsylvania.
The best place to find me is on my website, andrewclawson.com, or you can check out my Facebook, Goodreads, or Amazon pages.
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