Flashman and the Angel of the Lord

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

From time to time, Harry Flashman’s memoirs mention his military service during the War of the Rebellion. Such would be a predictable development in that a number of foreign officers participated in the American Civil War that occurred between 1861 and 1865. Still, not a whisper emerged concerning Flashman’s involvement in one of the most significant milestones on the road to war: John Brown’s raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.

This volume picks up the narrative of fiction’s most incorrigible scoundrel at the close of the events described in FLASHMAN IN THE GREAT GAME. Not surprisingly, Flashman’s satyriasis not only precipitates his untimely departure from India but also places him squarely in the hands of J. C. Spring—a man who has little love for Flashman and substantial reason to wish him ill. Spring was responsible for Flashman’s first visit to the United States, and it is appropriate that he should investigate Flashman’s return.

Once in Baltimore, Flashman runs afoul of several groups with an interest in John Brown’s projected Virginia venture. Thus, Flashman is once more on fringes of another event of far-reaching consequences. To his mind at least, it is an event that takes a turn altogether divergent from the norm save for his intervention.

In the matter of FLASHMAN AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD, it might be said that George Fraser has a short way to go, but spends a long time getting there. It is not that the story is far too complicated by half (such is a feature of the series) but rather that Fraser presents far too many unnecessary digressions. Still, those addicted to the adventures of the “Horrendous” Harry Flashman, will find several hours of enjoyable diversion.