Regulated for Murder by Suzanne Adair

The time is February of the year 1781. In Wilmington, NC, Lieutenant Michael Stoddard of His Majesty’s Eighty-Second Regiment is given an assignment. He must find General Cornwallis, rumored to be somewhere in the North Carolina backcountry between Cross Creek (modern day Fayetteville) and Hillsborough. He must deliver a message telling the general that he cannot count on Cross Creek for supplies, but must travel all the way back to Wilmington to resupply his men.

Stoddard’s journey will be difficult and dangerous. The people of Hillsborough have not forgotten the memorable day ten years previously when British governor Tryon hanged six local men and buried them in an unknown grave. This incident of the “Regulators,” who were rebelling against crooked tax collectors and land agents, still stirs the desire for revenge in many.

In addition to the local patriots, Stoddard must beware his fellow redcoats. With king and country—and any real accountability—far away across the ocean, some of them have deserted and begun swindling and framing their fellow soldiers and civilians. Others use their position within the army to line their own pockets and satisfy their crooked whims.

Stoddard makes his way to a designated “safe house” in Hillsborough, only to find its occupant dead upon the floor, his throat slit. Discovered at the scene of the crime moments later, he has trouble proving his innocence since no one in town knows him and he cannot reveal his true identity or purpose. Now, with General Cornwallis still to find, he has to solve the murder or be hanged for it himself.

Suzanne Adair evokes the confusion and conflicting loyalties of these times in our history. Her attention to detail helped me to see, hear, and even smell revolutionary-era Hillsborough. She exploits a historical fact—that in 1781 Major James Henry Craig of His Majesty’s Eighty-Second Regiment in Wilmington sent three separate messages to General Cornwallis regarding the unsuitability of Cross Creek for his supply depot. None of these messages were received.

Cornwallis’ difficulties with supplies turned out to be a deciding factor in the war. With his troops exhausted and depleted after their long march through hostile North Carolina, the general decided to join the British forces in Virginia, where he surrendered in October 1781.

Adair couples these historical details with a fascinating murder mystery and has created a story that will have readers wanting more. Fortunately for us, the sequel, A Hostage to Heritage, continues the story of Michael Stoddard’s adventures during this turbulent time in North Carolina history.

Suzanne Adair along with several other local authors will be at North Regional Library and Cameron Village Regional Library this month, visit our website for more details.

 Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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