The Sheriff's Catch (The Sassana Stone Pentalogy Book 1)
by James Vella-Bardon
Unbound Digital

"Then the old soldier’s instinct for survival returned as I studied my position, looking from left to right."

Abel de Santiago, a sniper for the Spanish army, falls in love with a Dutch woman during the Spanish campaign in the Netherlands in 1585. When she is killed by Abel’s own comrades, he deserts the army and seeks revenge for her death and for their unborn child. Swift justice eludes him, though, as he tracks the murderers on land and sea, facing new villains along the way. The road to vengeance is long and arduous and takes him from the Spanish Netherlands to a ship of the Spanish Armada. Finally, he is shipwrecked on the shores of Ireland. With each new captivating backdrop for daring violence, Abel uses his determination, wits, and skill to escape cruel captors, nature’s wrath, and the horrors of war. Abel, an unlikely hero and, ultimately, a survivor, begins to find renewed purpose as he is chased across Ireland, making new enemies and finding new allies.

This detailed historical account of Europe in the late 16th century is marvelously told through the sorrows and adventures of Abel. His captivating story of love and vengeance never wears thin as he finds himself faced time and again with certain death and forced to pull off a compelling escape. His single-minded devotion to his murdered wife and child leads him through some of the most startling scenes in history. These stunning events, rendered with realism and accuracy, never take precedence over Abel the man, the individual caught up in the ravages of war. Vella-Bardon develops a character fully realized and alive with anger, pain, loss, humor, intelligence, and prowess. With each new experience Abel encounters, the action intensifies, and death seems certain; the pages cannot be turned fast enough. The fate of Abel is a constant uncertainty that keeps this thriller going until the conclusion and the promise of more adventures in this planned five-part series.

In this first installment, Vella-Bardon kicks things off with gusto, bringing a whole history and world to life. He effectively captures the gritty details of war, the inhumane conditions of a galley slave, and the torturous contraptions of a brutal sheriff. The battles, tempests, and squalls at sea with the Spanish Armada are particularly compelling as the raging sea becomes the worst villain of all in a story rife with villains. It is the sea that ultimately leads Abel to Ireland, and the unique history of the Irish experience with the shipwrecked Spaniards from the Armada unfolds. Strange and uncertain customs and allegiances abound, and Abel is caught in the political and strategic fray. Vella-Bardon sorts it out as a master storyteller, moving Abel through a land of wonder and danger.

Fans of historical epics will find much to love in this riveting tale of one man’s revenge in the midst of a continent’s turmoil. This well-plotted story full of adventure, danger, and history is wonderfully told, and Abel is a character not soon forgotten. With its depth of character and setting, this is hardly a one-note story of mere vengeance but rather an exciting start to a thrilling series.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home