Summary and book reviews of The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley

The Judge Hunter

by Christopher Buckley

The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley X
The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley
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  • Published:
    May 2018, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Emily Isackson

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Book Summary

In the latest comic novel from Christopher Buckley, a hapless Englishman embarks on a dangerous mission to the New World in pursuit of two judges who helped murder a king.

London, 1664. Twenty years after the English revolution, the monarchy has been restored and Charles II sits on the throne. The men who conspired to kill his father are either dead or disappeared. Baltasar "Balty" St. Michel is twenty-four and has no skills and no employment. He gets by on handouts from his brother-in-law Samuel Pepys, an officer in the king's navy.

Fed up with his needy relative, Pepys offers Balty a job in the New World. He is to track down two missing judges who were responsible for the execution of the last king, Charles I. When Balty's ship arrives in Boston, he finds a strange country filled with fundamentalist Puritans, saintly Quakers, warring tribes of Indians, and rogues of every stripe. Helped by a man named Huncks, an agent of the Crown with a mysterious past, Balty travels colonial America in search of the missing judges. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Samuel Pepys prepares for a war with the Dutch that fears England has no chance of winning.

Christopher Buckley's enchanting new novel spins adventure, comedy, political intrigue, and romance against a historical backdrop with real-life characters like Charles II, John Winthrop, and Peter Stuyvesant. Buckley's wit is as sharp as ever as he takes readers to seventeenth-century London and New England. We visit the bawdy court of Charles II, Boston under the strict Puritan rule, and New Amsterdam back when Manhattan was a half-wild outpost on the edge of an unmapped continent. The Judge Hunter is a smart and swiftly plotted novel that transports readers to a new world.

October 13th, 1660. To my Lord's in the morning, where I met with Captain Cuttance, but my Lord not being up I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-General Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered, which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. Thus it was my chance to see the King beheaded at White Hall, and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing Cross. From thence to my Lord's, and took Captain Cuttance and Mr. Sheply to the Sun Tavern, and did give them some oysters.

—Samuel Pepys, diary entry

– CHAPTER 1 –
London, February 1664

Balthasar de St. Michel was contemplating his excellent good fortune at having such an influential brother-in-law as Samuel Pepys when he looked up and saw the head of Oliver Cromwell, mummifying on a pike. Revolting, he thought.

It had been there for—what—three years now? When the late king's son, Charles II, was restored to the throne, he ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

While the novel is historical, its themes are particularly exigent today. It acknowledges America's troubled past built on the murder of indigenous peoples and fraught with religious persecution despite the promise of religious freedom. Yet it also successfully reflects current divides in our own culture over religion and a strict adherence to a particular doctrine. The novel does not discount religion but rather its fundamentalist tendencies. Therefore, Buckley's combination of humor and history creates a compelling satire of our own modern existence.   (Reviewed by Emily Isackson).

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Media Reviews

Washington Book Review
Buckley has a razor-sharp wit....[a] brilliantly plotted historical novel that is extraordinarily entertaining. You will not stop laughing as you read it

Booklist
Buckley serves up generous helpings of witty dialogue, colorful characters, and intriguing plot twists that his fans and historical novel enthusiasts will find irresistible.

Library Journal
With an almost British, Monty Python–esque dryness, Buckley traipses through the American Colonies and skewers the foibles of the inhabitants....Buckley cleverly weaves his story line with historical threads taken from Pepys diaries and other notes from the Colonial period.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. An entertaining and nicely crafted picaresque thriller with crackling dialogue and a brace of Colonial cops as appealingly mismatched as any of Hollywood's buddy efforts.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Samuel Pepys's Diary

In The Judge Hunter, Balty's brother-in-law, Samuel Pepys, an important historical figure in 17th century London, plays an integral role.

Samuel Pepys Samuel Pepys (pronounced Peeps) was born in London in 1633. He completed grammar school during the English Civil War and witnessed the execution of King Charles I in 1649 at the age of 15. He continued his education at Magdalene College, Cambridge, receiving a Bachelor of Arts. He then went to work for Edward Montagu, a relative who became the first Earl of Sandwich. It is believed that his time with Montagu helped advance Pepys' career. In 1655, Pepys married Elizabeth St. Michel (Balty's sister in the novel), who at the time was 15 years old. In June of 1660, he became Clerk of the Acts of the...

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