In this third novel in the series, Thaddeus Lewis and his son journey into the heart of disaster.
When the bloated corpse of a man dressed in women’s clothing washes up on the shore of Lake Ontario near Thaddeus Lewis’s home, nothing is found on the body except a small scrap of green ribbon.
The year is 1847 — "Black ’47" — and 100,000 Irish emigrants are fleeing to Canada to escape starvation. The emigrants bring with them the dreaded "ship’s fever," and soon Canadian ports are overflowing with the sick and dying and entire families are being torn apart.
Lewis’s youngest son, Luke, who has aspirations of becoming a doctor, volunteers in the fever sheds in Kingston. When he finds a green ribbon on the lifeless body of a patient named John Porter, he is intrigued by the strange coincidence. Though dealing with demons of his own, young Luke enlists his father’s help to uncover the mystery, a tale of enmity that began back in Ireland. Their search leads them to the heart of the criminal underworld of Toronto, where the final acts of vengeance play out against the tragedy of the fever sheds.
Kellough revisits pre-Confederation Canada in the third installment of her Thaddeus Lewis series. The year 1847 sees calamity as a potato blight scourges Ireland; what would have been a humanitarian disaster on its own is made immeasurably worse when British authorities eschew aid in favor of forcing the Irish to choose between near certain starvation and chancy emigration. Canada is flooded by desperate refugees, easy fodder for disease and exploitation. Protestant minister Thaddeus Lewis and his son Luke find themselves caught up in a mystery rooted deep in the Irish tragedy, a series of seemingly unconnected deaths linked by two green ribbons and a common history of prejudice, violence and a deadly cycle of retribution. Kellough embraces the history of her native Ontario, accepting the ugly facts along with the laudable ambitions of a few to improve a society divided by superstition, class and religion, a society that punished victims and rewarded exploiters. While Kellough takes some liberties with the actual history of Thaddeus Lewis to facilitate her tale, in grander matters she paints an accurately unsentimental picture of Victorian-era Ontario in a time of plague and disaster, eschewing narrative convenience for historical verisimilitude. Canadian distribution: UTP. U.S. distribution: Ingram.