Monday, December 16, 2013

"Circle of Spies" by Roseanna M. White - another great adventure of the Culper Ring!

In the final installment of her series about the Culper Spy Ring, Roseanna M. White explores the ring's activities during the Civil War.  By this time the ring is down to just family, but they are still vigilant in protecting the interests of their country.  Marietta gets dragged into it when she finds out her in-laws are not the supporters of the Union she thought they were, but rather are involved in a dangerous secret society, and it becomes her job to help Pinkerton agent Slade Osbourne where she can without letting him know of her involvement.  Slade, however, is not sure if Marietta is a southern sympathizer with her dead husband's family, if she is pro-Union with her own family, or if she is playing a game all her own.

Circle of Spies
Though there are three spy groups operating - the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Pinkertons, and the Culpers, White does a good job at keeping them distinct.  Devereaux Hughes is a leader of the secret Confederate society the KGC (a solid bad guy that one can joyfully hate, in an evil and mildly creepy society).  Slade is a Pinkerton agent who is pretending to be a Pinkerton double agent for the KGC, when he is really spying on them to take them down.  Marietta, the Culper, is keeping an eye on both parties, to help Slade where she can and make sure the KGC does not succeed, while keeping her role unknown to the both of them.  I had no trouble keeping track of which party was doing what, which is testament to the author's excellent ability to tell a story. 

Marietta surprised me; it is not often the heroine of Christian fiction is an accomplished coquette.  She can flirt, tease, and seduce with the best of them, but really she is operating under an oppressive burden of guilt for her fickleness with men, even if she has never broken the letter of the law.  She is a sadder but wiser girl - surrounded by wealth, but poor in spirit; free to do as she pleases, but imprisoned by guilt.  It is encouraging to watch her grow throughout the story and return to the faith her parents instilled in her as a child.

A major point the author makes - one pointed at Marietta - is that while forgiveness does not eliminate the consequences of one's sins, that responsibility should not be a prison to one's soul.  She writes, "You have prayed for forgiveness from your sins.  Have you prayed for freedom from their bonds? . . . Never once in the bible does God speak either for or against physical slavery.  But spiritual slavery - that is a topic He addresses time and again.  Over and over Paul pleads with the early church to embrace the freedom of the soul that Christ offers.  You must do that, Mari.  You must cling, not just to cleansing, but to freedom." (228).

Circle of Spies is an excellent novel and I enjoyed immensely, but I wish it were not the conclusion to the series.  The author hit on a marvelous theme for the books, and it is sad to see them end.  However, she finishes it with a flourish!  5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Harvest House and Netgalley for providing a free e-copy for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own. 

The Culper Ring:
1. Ring of Secrets
1.5. Fairchild's Lady (novella)
2. Whispers from the Shadows
2.5. "A Hero's Promise" (short story)
3. Circle of Spies

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