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The new Richard Sharpe bursts onto the historical adventure scene in a brilliant action packed debut of Redcoat battle and bloodshed1854 The banks of the Alma River Crimean Peninsular The Redcoats stagger to a bloody halt The men of the King's Royal Fusiliers are in terrible trouble ducking and twisting as the storm of shot shell and bullet tear through their ranks Officer Jack Lark has to act immediately and decisively His life and the success of the campaign depend on it But does he have the mettle the officer ualities that are the life blood of the British Army? From a poor background Lark has risen through the ranks by stealth and guile and now he faces the ultimate test THE SCARLET THIEF introduces us to a formidable and compelling hero brutally courageous roguish ambitious in a historical novel as robust as it is thrillingly authentic by an author who brings history and battle vividly alive


10 thoughts on “The Scarlet Thief

  1. says:

    Find this and other reviews at image of a British Redcoat is indicative of one thing here in the United States and sarcastic as I am I can’t help wondering how many Americans on seeing the cover associate Paul Fraser Collard’s The Scarlet Thief with the American Revolution Spoiler alert folks the title has absolutely nothing to do with our fight for independenceIf you read the jacket description you’ll discover that the narrative actually takes place during the Crimean War which raged from 1853 to 1856 on a major peninsula in Eastern Europe a fact which leads to one of my favorite aspects of the book I knew the basics of the conflict when I picked up Collard’s work but I was otherwise flying blind with only a prayer that I’d be able to follow the battle seuences and make sense of the politics that inspired the narrative Fortunately for me the author placed a great deal of emphasis on his illustration of the conflict and I found myself thorough enad with his descriptions of the Battle of AlmaI also loved Collard’s diverse depiction of the British army American fiction lends itself to the superficial vilification of the British soldier and I was both impressed with and drawn to the ideas expressed in Collard’s work for its opposing point of view The Scarlet Thief includes a diverse cast of individuals of various backgrounds dispositions and ambition These aren’t stock characters and I liked how the author’s attention to each afforded a authentic perspectiveJack once again proved an engaging protagonist but The Scarlet Thief shed light on a new aspect of his character Jack's ambition is a key to his character in the novellas and while it is by no means diminished here The Scarlet Thief puts his struggles center stage Collard’s hero is ill prepared and initially lacks many of the skills reuired to effectively execute the expected duties of a Captain but I found his determination to succeed endearing and appreciated the emotional depth his growth brought the storyThe Scarlet Thief is a brilliant standalone that I'd confidently recommend but I’d definitely urge readers to consider picking up Jack Lark Redcoat beforehand A handful of key characters are developed in the novella and I think having prior knowledge of Molly Slater and Sloames really enhances key moments of The Scarlet Thief


  2. says:

    Another foray into my summer easy reading for 2018 And the format is perfect to as the paperwork weighs in at jus over 350 pages with that well spaced out font Hooked from the get go before you know it around 25% of the way through the book You’ve all read the preface so I wont repeat that but instead give you a flavour of what to expectThose looking for a Sharpe style hero move along wrong type of character what you do get is a young rascal trying to make good and work his way up the ranks coming up against an eviiiiiil colour sergeant to boo hiss when he appears on stage not to mention the sympathetic officer who looks after our young soldier Joking aside the characters do seem a little stereotypical but it’s all good a flowing read with the use of authentic slang of the period adding to the flavour The historical detail away from the army is not great deep but no matter as I'm looking for a light read and this fits the bill perfectly The battle scenes however are well done with the historical detail very good allowing you to picture the action tactics as well as sense the energynervesAdreline of the combatantsThe story is a simple tale that of an officer Captain in charge of his company the Light company Royal Fusilier’s who have jus been sent to Russian Crimea in a combined force of FrenchOttoman British allies to storm Sevastopol Before we start the action overseas there is a bit of home front pre amble which sets the story up all becomes clear which I shall let you find out for yourselves NO Spoilers here I’ve read elsewhere that it’s also worth reading the novella’s that precede this book to build up the characters some Had set out with the intention of giving all my summer reads a 3 mostly down to the reason they were selected not too taxing on the noodle but with the final battle scenes being some of the best Ive encountered it seems fair to round this upto a 4 as it kept me hooked royally entertainedVery enjoyable adventure style tale a series I shall be continuing with when the mood suits in fact Ive already got the second book “on hold” at the local


  3. says:

    RedcoatsThe world sends a strange thrill through you doesn't it? Especially if you're English I suppose Makes you want to start singing 'Rule Britannia' And the redcoat era of the British army covers some pretty momentous times The Jacobite rebellion in the 1740s? The war of American Independence in the 1770s? The Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century? The Raj? The Zulu wars? And then there was the Crimean Funny thing is that few people if you ask them in the street will be able to tell you much about that war They might remember that Florence Nightingale served in Scutari They might know names like Raglan Lucan and Balaclava? Few will know anything and it's possible that it would hardly be remembered at all but for Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade It's an odd period for most of us as it's still carrying the feel of the Napoleonic era but the army resembles the defenders of Rorke's DriftNot for me Strange really but I reckon the number of people who will even have heard of the battle of the Alma before reading this book will be surprisingly small And yet as a kid our family often went to a pub by the river that was called The Alma and it had a profound effect on me You see every pub sign seems to be a coloured animal or some craftsman The pub sign at the Alma showed redcoats crossing the river in the face of the Russian hordes It was a stirring thing to see on regular occasions and it coloured my image of the Crimea from a young ageOn to the tale This debut offering from Paul Fraser Collard is the first tome in the Jack Lark series It tells the tale without wanting to risk spoilers of a low born proper 'man's man' soldier who by guile and cunning finds himself leading men in the opening salvos of the Crimean campaign among the upper class wastrels that generally occupy the higher ranks Tied in alongside are threads of a revenge plotline and a nemesis that fits the bill perfectlyuite simply Collard has managed to capture the feel of the Crimea to such an extent that at times I found myself lost in scenes that reminded me faintly of The Charge of the Light Brigade Waterloo or Zulu His descriptions and use of language draw the reader deeply into the world of Jack Lark and make the book eminently readable The tale is snappy and fast paced and will drag you along by the braces to the endCollard has managed to put together an idea for a character and tale that is interesting refreshing and not derivative of or directly comparable to most of the current historical fiction and that will earn Jack Lark a solid niche I suspect in the manner of Cornwell's Sharpe Arnold's Stryker or Scarrow's Cato The book had me wondering to near the end how it would resolve and the final moment fitted absolutely perfectly giving the epilogue a gold trimmed finish for meThe characters are believable and sympathetic or not where appropriate and Jack himself is a character that will draw me to purchasing future books in the series without delay or considerationIt is a rip roaring novel full of character and action and any writer would be than pleased to be able to put their name to it but for a debut work it is uite a stunning pieceBravo Mr Collard Roll on book 2 I say


  4. says:

    Definitely one for fans of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series Jack Lark has a lot in common with the hero of Cornwell's Napoleonic war stories A likeable rogue who by unusual means finds himself as an officer in the Redcoat army this time in Raglan's Crimean War campaign Like Sharpe he struggles to fit in and to come to terms with what is expected of an officer The similarities don't end there either A brutal amoral Sergeant as a nemesis; an unfortunate way of attracting tragedy; a closer affinity to the men in the ranks than his fellow officers; courage driven by a determination to better his lotThe writing is good the pace relentless and the graphic and frank portrayal of 19th Century warfare striking At the risk of overloading the similarities with Cornwell there is also a great deal of historical accuracy and detailed background to this novel which adds a great deal to the authenticity of the storyPersonally I am a big fan of Sharpe and so am always reluctant to start in on anything with reviewers claiming positive comparisons; I have been disappointed on than one occasion by pale imitations This time though I think I may have found an author and a protagonist that can carry the baton Far enough forward in time from Waterloo to not be a facsimile but close enough in time to carry a similar appeal I think Jack Lark may be about to be added to my list of favourite characters and I look forward to following him into the next chapter I strongly recommend this even to those who have been disappointed like me in the past


  5. says:

    I think about the only time I willingly put ’The Scarlet Thief’ down was to go order the next one It’s THAT goodThe 19th Century is not a period of history I know a right lot about Make that nothing However now I’ve found Paul Fraser Collard and Jack Lark I think all that’s about to change Lark is a character an attitude a book and a period that stays long after I’ve turned the last page PFC writes him with energy style and enthusiasm for the whole that really is infectious You care for the character immediately You understand him and his actions and they are understandable logical though that doesn’t mean they are predictable There are enough ‘well I didn’t see that coming” to send every reader home happyPFC treats the reader with respect one of my favourite observations He takes it as read that you can pick up on the differences and nuances relating to the period as compared to out lives without having them set out so a five year old can understand That means a lot to me and elevates PFC even further in my estimation The character of Jack Lark is apart from his personal habits his methods and motivations an interesting vehicle for allowing the writer to can see both sides of the social and army divide You’ll get a hint of why from the book blurb above but you’ll need to read this to fully understand what I’m blathering on aboutAlso there’s none of this modern nonsense where all sergeants must call those under them ‘ladies’ or at a push ‘gentlemen’ Because nothing says ‘no nonsense don’t mess with me I’m in no way gay and neither are you no way’ army type sergeant’ than someone calling a bunch of new recruits or no nonsense etc people under him ‘ladies’ Here the difference is the sergeants KNEW those under them were worthless To call them ‘ladies’ would have been elevating their social standings Redcoats are scum of the earth and generally expendable But obviously indispensable as is said on p192 'for it was the humble redcoat who would decide the fate of the battle to come’ Battles are won as always by whichever side is lucky enough to be able to throw most men in the line the 'meat grinder’ as beloved of writers of Roman period novels at the right time Interestingly for me at least the descriptions of the Russians attacking was in a pattern familiar from all the WWII books I’ve read OK just me thenTo be fair the points made about this period’s Army officers’ scant regard or respect for their Redcoats’ lives or abilities is pushing at an already open door of course However the observations are well made well times and never laboured or hectoringIgnore all this ‘the new Sharpe’ nonsense I wouldn’t know a ‘Sharpe’ if it came up to me kneed me in the knackers Lazy stuff from Marketing Department Though if that’s what it takes to get you into bookshop to buy this then go for it I’m pretty sure I did see something about the character being compared to 'The Talented Mr Ripley' Maybe so However this isn’t bollocks I’d say the ‘regeneration’ of Jack Lark is Dr Who like That should get the kids onto the booksSo a totally believable character exceptionally well and knowledgeably written and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finishMore world class reviews on Speesh Reads


  6. says:

    ReviewPaul Collard in the form of Jack Lark provide the reader with a new man not a hero but a man flawed and heroic a product of his environment but with a desire to pull himself away from the sualor that is the lot of the poor man in the 1850’sHis story has flashes of the writing that gave Bernard Cornwell his man Sharpe but it is also There is no pretence to the man which is funny given that his entire career as a Captain is a pretence He is who he is even hiding as a Captain the man will out his colourful language his ability to think for himself to act to think of the men under him and the way they are treated so many things that would and do set him as a Captain apart There is a different camaraderie in the book coupled with a small level of romance that were flashes of John Wilcox and his Simon Fonthill series the interplay between batman and officerI’m no expert on the period so cannot say if the history is accurately depicted but it felt accurate it felt real it felt aliveThe story its self contains some of the most riveting battle scenes I have read ever every line every paragraph and page of the battles had me hooked riveted to the page there were times when I was almost as breathless as the exhausted soldiers Paul Collard put the reader through the mill almost as much as the soldiers Death is on a huge scale but not gratuitous it merely shows the reader the hell of the battles in the Crimea and the worthlessness of having a command built on privilege rather than skill and even the skilled can break in the teeth of the utter horror that is war It also shows that the writer is not afraid to kill off what would be key characters for other authorsI really like reading debut books to see who are the starts of the future and Paul Collard is most certainly one Book two cannot come soon enough for meHardback 9th May 2013 Back 21st Nov 2013 9th May 2013 2 The Maharajah’s General is due 21st November 2013 Lark barely survived the Battle of the Alma in Crimea and his future seemed bleak But now he’s found a way to get back to war masuerading as a captain who died of his wounds Arriving in India Jack finds new enemies to fight but this time they’re on his own side Unmasked as a fraud he escapes with the chaplain’s daughter and in desperation they seek refuge with the Maharajah the British Army is trying to defeat The Maharajah sees Jack as a curiosity but recognises a fellow military mind In return for his safety Jack must train the very army he came to India to fight And one day soon the two sides must meet in battle


  7. says:

    This book has an implausible premise but the battle scenes on the Alma are uite exciting so if you are willing to read it with a large grain of salt stick around for the battle scenes Jack Lark can be an appealing character but he has the devil's own luck or an accommodating author It's a fast read and it's interesting to read something about the Crimean War for a change


  8. says:

    In choosing this book I was going out of my usual comfort zone although not entirely as I love historical fiction I had been studying the Poem The Charge of the Light Brigade in English and the time period of the Crimean War was of interest Although the battle mainly featured in this is the Battle of Alma not Balaclava as written about in aforementioned poemAnyway the book follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Jack Lark a humble but resourceful orderly who has dreams of bettering himself but stuck in an army where money talks to get you advancement rather than your potential skills as a soldier He has a sweetheart Molly He also has an arch enemy Slater He is a big bully who likes nothing better than to use his rank and brutalize men under his control Jack has the temerity to stand up to him at huge personal costCircumstances and fate as well as choices give him a hope to prove himself He ends up in the Crimea but things from his past refuse to remain there A fairly large part of the book focuses on the Battle of Alma considered one of the first battles of the Crimean War The writer portrays it in all its blood and gore and give it a sense of realism This is battle at its bloodiest and most visceral The horror of the ravaging effect of weapons on the human body as well as fighting conditionsJack Lark is a hero to follow not a perfect knight in shining armour but a man of courage and cleverness that outranks his station and his birth


  9. says:

    I actually wrote a few notes for this book and they are really harsh I must have been in uite the mood I shall not be that severe now that I've had a little time to digest what I've read I didn't read very far before finding this wasn't my kind of hero I thought him seriously wussy he came across too everyman without enough character No matter how hard I try not too these type of stories always get compared to Richard Sharpe and because I love that character so muchno one else can compare I've also started to tire of the easy read historical fiction tale The type that remind me of boys adventure stories but written for men I guess man deserve their version of fluffy books too but I just want to sink my mind into a deeper story and this didn't do it for me I rather feel that I'm taking out my general frustrations on a novel that didn't deserve it so I've decided not to give it a rating because I don't consider it uite fair to the book


  10. says:

    I really enjoyed this book and the idea at the heart of the story which is that our hero Jack Lark from a poor part of London steals the identity of a wealthy officer There are interesting sub plots and a good mix of characters The book is mainly set around the battle of Alma during the Crimea war The action is very well depicted and the battle scenes uite gory It is well writtn and has just enough historical detail to make us feel part of the adventure without weighing us down with too much detail The style of the narrative is easy to read and I finished the book in about four hours Jack makes a bold and exciting hero and I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series