You don't send a gentleman to catch vermin. You send Hawkwood.
Matthew Hawkwood is the hero of a series of historical mystery novels by James McGee.
The Hawkwood novels historical novels are set during the Regency period, when Britain was at war with Napoleon. The hero, Matthew Hawkwood, is working as a Bow Street Runner, an early investigative officer working out of London's Bow Street Magistrates' Court. He is called upon to solve a number of civil crimes, including murder, body-snatching and highway robbery, but his previous military experience makes him ably suited to investigate issues of national security.
Hawkwood has a complicated back-story, which is touched upon at various stages of the novels. He once served as an officer in the 95th Rifles, but was cashiered after he killed a fellow officer in a duel. With Wellington's intervention he was spared a court-martial, and instead joined the Spanish Guerrilleros, liaising with the British intelligence officer Colquhoun Grant. It is Grant's influence that enables Hawkwood to get a job at Bow Street on his return to England.
McGee's creation of Hawkwood's past was deliberate, as he wanted a hero who was "at home in both the military and criminal worlds".
Much of the action within the novels is inspired by historical events. The plot of Ratcatcher
centres around the secret development of the first submarines by American Robert Fulton, then working for the French. Resurrectionist
is darker, reflecting the underworld of "resurrectionists" who stole bodies to supply the anatomy schools of London, and the experimentation of early (and illegal) organ transplant and resuscitation. Rapscallion
focuses on French prisoners-of-war upon the prison hulks.
The novels in the Hawkwood series (so far) are:
- Ratcatcher (2006)
- Resurrectionist (2007)
- Rapscallion (2008)
- Rebellion (2011)
The Hawkwood novels contain examples of:
- Badass Long Coat: Hawkwood frequently wears a long riding coat, even when not on horseback.
- Bedlam House: Bethlem Royal, the original Bedlam, features prominently in Resurrectionist in all its hellish glory. The place creeps Hawkwood out.
- Bodybag Trick: This is how Hawkwood and Lassuer are smuggled off the prison hulk in Rapscallion.
- The City Narrows: Jack Ketch's Warren, the neighbourhood that Jago calls home.
- Combat Pragmatist; Pretty much everyone. Hawkwood himself seems particularly enamored of the Groin Attack.
- Cowboy Cop: Hawkwood
- Da Chief: Chief Magistrate James Read
- Death by Materialism: In Rapscallion, Morgan. He attempts to escape from his ship wearing a waistcoat filled with gold guineas. Hawkwood says he'll allow him to escape, but not by boat; he'll have to swim. Then he shoves him off the side.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Molly Finn in Resurrectionist.
- Evil Albino: Matisse in Rapscallion.
- Final Battle: Several tropes related to this pop up in Resurrectionist, and all of them are justified.
- Honor Before Reason: Hyde tosses Hawkwood a weapon so he can have a fair fight. He is both a)honorable, and b)insane.
- Leave Him to Me: Jago needs to stay behind to guard the other perp.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Hawkwood tries, and his gun misfires. Just before he kills Hyde, he explains what he's going to do. Hyde is exactly the sort of person who would listen to a medically-interesting subject at that time, and if he makes a move Hawkwood will just kill him anyway.
- Freakier Than Fiction: McGee mentions in the afterword of Resurrectionist that he decided to leave certain elements of the story out, lest he be accused of making stuff up. Specifically, people taking preserved loved ones and placing them in their bedrooms or living rooms.
- Grave Robbing: Resurrectionist
- A Handful for an Eye: Hawkwood pulls this trick during his duel against the Marmeluke in Rapscallion.
- Handicapped Badass: Colonel Lomax
- Hellhole Prison: The hulks in Rapscallion.
- The Highwayman: Ratcatcher opens with a pair of highwaymen robbing a coach and killing a naval messenger.
- It Will Never Catch On: In Resurrectionist, Hyde makes several remarkably correct predictions about the future of medicine, forseeing such things as organ transplants.
- Locking Macgyver In The Store Cupboard: In Rapscallion, Hawkwood and Lasseur are able to escape using items they find in the cellar in which they are imprisoned.
- Mad Doctor: Colonel Titus Hyde in Resurrectionist
- Mata Hari: Catherine de Varesne in Ratcatcher
- Pet the Dog: When we first meet Rapscallion's Morgan, he's helping to deliver a foal. He also has two actual dogs. Later on, he kills the one of them in anger.
- Pocket Protector: The tipstaff Hawkwood was carrying in his coat turns aside a sword blade in Resurrectionist.
- Prison Ship: The hulks in Rapscallion.
- Pursued Protagonist: The prologue to novel Rapscallion features Lieutenant Sark being chased through the marshes by unknown pursuers with dogs. He does not survive the experience. Lasseur and Hawkwood end up in a similar situation, and make it out.
- Regency England
- Scar Survey: Catherine conducts one on Hawkwood in Ratcatcher.
- Shown Their Work
- Sub Story: Ratcatcher
- Sword Cane: Colonel Hyde wields one to lethal effect in Resurrectionist.
- Ten Paces And Turn: Hawkwood fights a traditional pistol duel at dawn in Ratcatcher.
- There Are No Rules: Matisse says this when Hawkwood asks what the rules are for the duel in Rapscallion.
- They Have the Scent: Hawkwood and Lassuer are hunted using dogs in Rapscallion.
- Underground Railroad: In Rapscallion, Hawkwood has to infiltrate and shut down an underground railroad that is smuggling French POWs out of England.