1660 England. General Edward Whalley and his son-in law Colonel William Goffe board a ship bound for the New World. They are on the run, wanted for the murder of King Charles I—a brazen execution that marked the culmination of the English Civil War, in which parliamentarians successfully battled royalists for control. But now, ten years after Charles' beheading, the royalists have returned to power. Under the provisions of the Act of Oblivion, the fifty-nine men who signed the king's death warrant and participated in his execution have been found guilty in absentia of high treason. In London, Richard Nayler, secretary of the regicide committee of the Privy Council, is charged with bringing the traitors to justice and he will stop at nothing to find them. A substantial bounty hangs over their heads for their capture—dead or alive.
Fast-paced yet wonderfully detailed ... Cleverly, the adventures and privations of Ned Whalley and his son-in-law, Will Goffe, are set in counterpoint to the trials of Will’s wife, Frances, as she hides in London with five young children, relying on the charity of her religious community as she faces plague, poverty and the great fire that will later destroy much of the city.
Gripping ... A belter of a thriller. It will be compulsive reading for those who loved An Officer and a Spy, Harris’s book about the Dreyfus affair. Like that novel, the research is immaculate. A chewy, morally murky slice of history is made into a tale that twists and surprises. The characters are strong and we care about their predicament. The story stretches over continents and years, but the suspense feels as taut as if the three main characters were locked in a room with a gun.
Mr. Harris has respected real events and dates, yet Ned and Will’s American journey leaves plenty of room for the historical novelist ... Here he brings his customary skill and zest to fleshing out what did happen with 'what might have happened. Act of Oblivion delivers a galloping adventure, with a novel of ideas craftily packed into its saddlebags ... Act of Oblivion offers well-staged hideouts and escapes, ambushes and skirmishes, amid a wilderness adventure that recalls The Last of the Mohicans. It also sketches a colorful panorama of 1660s New England ... Mr. Harris deftly switches perspective between the runaways and their hunter.