Cover Image: Sons of Liberty

Sons of Liberty

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I couldn't lose myself in this book and I tried multiple times to do so. Something didn't click for me and in the end I did not finish the book.

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I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

This book examines an abolitionist story and hidden treasure from the perspective of three time periods over a period of about one hundred and seventy (ish) years.

The tale begins in the early years of the nineteenth century as we are introduced to a scheme set about by co-conspirators Ulysses Brooke and a childhood friend Cato (a slave that was owned by his family) to commit a series of thefts to collect gold pieces to hide and bury in various locations with the plan to be that escaped slaves would be able to use this gold to either escape or revolt against their former owners. Brooke created a book containing the maps that these former slaves would be able to use to access these hidden treasures.

Enter the second time era detailing the suspicious rise of Gilded Age icon Sam Billings and his family, who come into possession of this map book in the later years of the nineteenth century, and develop a scheme to recover these hidden treasures and essentially launder these monies through a bank in New York. In the formative years of the twentieth century, Sam Billings makes the decision to form a philanthropic trust with the purpose of providing his family and companies with good public relations.

In the third time period, we are introduced to FBI agent Alvin Starkman (and his wife, Faye) as he is asked to investigate the source of the Billings trust and whether there is any truth to the rumors that Starkman uncovers.

The first time period narrative with Ulysees and Cato is dark, emotional, and at times heart-wrenching. The author has made an effort to make sure his characters are both well-fleshed and empathetic.

The second period illustrates the rise of the Billings family after the patriarch, Sam Billings, discovered this book of maps detailing the locations of the hidden treasures, the intermediate step of finding a way "launder" these hidden treasures, and ultimately the creation of his philanthropic trust.

The third part of this story details the investigatory efforts of FBI agent Starkman as he explores the rumors surrounding the Billings Trust. During the course of his investigation, he finds a copy of the book hidden in the FBI archives and discovers the validity of the book by finding one of the buried treasures. He ultimately discovers that one of the groups that helped to instigate this investigation has ulterior motives in asking for his assignment as it turns out that his wife, Faye, is a descendant of Brookes (with the thinking that questions could be raised about his investigatory methods if the results are not to this group's favour).

Individually, each part of this story represents an exciting, interwoven narrative set against the soaring ideals and lethal dangers of this period of American history. However, the author attempts to weave these parts together by popping them back and forth throughout history. Personally, I found this effort to be at times confusing and disjointed as this author attempts to reconcile the actions of his main characters throughout his narrative.

This book would definitely be a favorite of history buffs as the narrative of this dark period in American history and the scheme to encourage the efforts to rebel against slaveowners are quite detailed. It is because of the non-linear chronological jumps and some of the confusion that I experienced toward the latter parts of the novel, that I am rating this book a solid three and a quarter stars out of a possible five.

As with all my literary ramblings, these are just my five cents worth.

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Although this begins early in the 1800s, there are three time periods in which the storyline plays out. Ulysses Brooke is going to steal the very gold that has been gleaned by the slave market. But he doesn’t keep it. He’s careful to bury the treasure about in various locations and has created a book in which detailed maps and instructions are left regarding the location of each stash.

Ulysses enlists the aid of his boyhood buddy, Cato (a slave on his family's farm), as well as another childhood friend who holds the same abolitionist sentiments as he.

Enter the second time era and a long one, the Billings family believe they are descendants and have the map book.

Now a century later, FBI agent Starkman and his wife get the story and hopes to finally get to the bottom of the whole thing.

The period of time with Ulysses is dark, emotional, and at times heart-wrenching. You want so much for Ulysses to succeed in his endeavors. He and Cato are well-fleshed and empathetic. The long period with Sam could at times be a bit confusing, reconciling the year and characters involved in his portion of the well-plotted tale. But it slowed the pace somewhat. The conclusion with the FBI agent draws most threads together, providing a satisfying ending to a complex, well-written narrative.

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While the premise of this novel was good, it did not meet my expectations. I struggled to read it as it kept jumping from character to character and time to time. Definitely not a linear story.

The idea of how a young white boy and young black boy became friends was a good idea -- in my view, adding the money and old book/map detracted from what could have been a good narrative. This was true even as the story echoed across the time line.

Certain readers might like this but I was not one of them. I did not rate lower because it is not bad--just not my desired reading matter. Not every novel appeals to every reader and this was one that did not appeal to me.

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I have pondered a few days on how to write my review for The Sons of Liberty by Matthew Speezer because this book is so good I want to do it justice. I also don’t want to give anything away that wasn’t in the summary so let me just say this there was a guy name Booker and his dad owned slaves and one of those slaves Quedo. Booker cannot stand slavery and thinks it’s atrocious so one day he Brangles his good friend Ted in Quedo because he wants the Rob slavers… Those are the people that capture and resell or capture and bring back slaves. Who wants to steal the gold from the slavers and bury it in an area where slaves will be able to find it. That way they can decide what they want to do with the gold either rise up and fight against the slavers and slaveowners or make a bid for freedom. Now this is all happening in the 18th century when owning slaves was in full force and right after the revolution. Now we fastforward to to the early 1970s these people who are definitely on an economical down slope goes to the FBI and ask for agent Starkman specifically and although he has had a few great moments in his investigating career he does find this a little offputting but he persist. They are the relatives of Ulysses booker and have come to the FBI because they say the money the Billings foundation was founded on was money belonging to them. Agent Starkman hast to take the case as a government agent because not only is there evidence they may be telling the truth they even took the family to court and one a book with the coordinates to where the goal was and other things in it. As agent Starkman starts to investigate he eventually learns The family may be right but there’s more to the story than they know the things he uncovered that he pulls off is more important than he initially realizes and what does all this have to do with his beautiful African-American wife Faye? The racism in this book weather would be for the African-American characters or agent Starkman himself is just‘s just as unsettling as it always is but this time the racism may benefit those who really deserve it. Oh I absolutely loved this book. I know above the name of the slave who helped him was dictated wrong his name was Cato this is a book I will definitely read again and have put it on my all-time favorite shelf. Only a true historian could’ve pulled this off and I can only hope he writes another. I absolutely loved it and can’t say enough about it a truly honestly five star historical fiction novel. I received this book from NetGalley and black RoseWriting but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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I enjoyed this one. Though I admit the title had me thinking it was going to be set during the American Revolution. But once you start reading it, you realize that it starts in mid 1800s and goes from there. I just want to point that out to readers so they don’t go in thinking they are going to get something else.

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this was a great historical mystery novel, it was what I was hoping for from the description. It was a great debut novel from Matthew Speiser, and had a great writing style going on. The characters worked in the story being told and did what I was looking for. The plot does a great job in telling the story and enjoyed getting to know Ulysses Brooke.

"Sam held up his finger. “Your nicknames slander nothing but ghosts.” He leaned forward, meeting the boy’s eye. “Would you refuse a slab of lumber, all on account of the faded blotch of a smoke stain? Would you worry over some wayward candle lit long before you were born?”

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