In the late colonial period, one-third of Kings County-Brooklyn-were black slaves, and their Dutch-descended masters were never free of fear of their revolt. But the slaves too had much to fear from insurrection, as overreaction to it invariably cost them deeply. How can each deal with an age-old oppression, the solution to which is still beyond the horizon? Their lives become more strained when the horrific French and Indian War roils the local economy and all of its population to the point where any dereliction of duty, any personal slight can set off an enormous conflagration.
Who killed the horrible man in the stocks? He attacked a pretty young slave girl-a crime that offends the townsmen as much for its interracial character as its violence-and now his throat has been cut. How could it be the ancient slave long esteemed for his docility, now boasting of the murder even as he implores God for forgiveness? The possibility that a black man killed a white one is fraught with dire consequences for the entire town ... unless the young Thomas Dordrecht can ferret out the whole truth.