★★★★★ Set in the eastern United States in the year 1847, Brazen Deceit by Robert Lackey is the fifth book in the action-packed Pulaski saga. Benjamin (Ben) and Sonja Pulaski, along with their children, are fierce opponents of slavery. As such, they bravely smuggle slaves—with the help of their crew members—from the south to freedom in the north on their ship, the Raven. This line of work is not without danger, and so the Pulaski’s must brace themselves for threats around every corner. Ben, the captain of the ship, finds himself in grave trouble with the law and is forced to take drastic measures to save himself and those in his company.
Brazen Deceit, and the entire Pulaski series, is historical fiction at its best. Lackey’s ability to vividly depict the horrors of slavery in America is a great achievement. Through the experiences of the Pulaski family, Lackey conveys the suffering associated with this time period as well as the determination of many to rise up against the laws of slavery, regardless of the consequences. The book’s characters, both major and minor, feel real and convincing, and there are touching moments throughout the storyline when the enslaved delight in simple freedoms. In one scene, George, a slave being transported north on the Raven, jumps overboard in order to save another crew member from drowning. After saving the man, George merrily stays in the water for another hour or so because he loves to swim; he misses the water. Lackey’s writing does much more than just entertain—it reminds readers to cherish our everyday liberties.