The Hickory Stick

The Hickory Stick

Three Stars


Barnaby Madden was nineteen and ready to make something of himself in the very early Victorian era of 1839. He knew he didn’t want to follow his father into working the seas, but he needed to have some kind of career to set him up for life, when along came a helpful friend to show him a lucky advertisement asking for constables for the law enforcement in the local area. With nothing to lose he set out to apply and despite lying about his age he was accepted into the force. What follows this introduction to the hero is the daily ups and downs of life as a roving constable in country England.


Barnaby is a likeable lad and it has to be said that he certainly gets his fair share of luck with the ladies. He deals with all manner of situations from theft to rape to smuggling illegal substances in his daily work. This story shows the harsh reality and dangers of having to find somewhere to live, being an unwelcome interloper to a community and the skills required to ingratiate himself into the said community.


Often based on real people and their real stories, there is a good mix of fiction and historical nonfiction woven into this story. The characters are finely drawn and lure you into the piece. It is a fun book to read, often feeling like the diary of Barnaby Madden rather than a story being told from an outside source. It does end somewhat awkwardly however, with no sense of closure to the story; rather the desire to keep reading about his story is strong.


Easy summer reading.


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