The Light Horse – Historical Fiction
The Light Horse is the story of two men who join forces to capture one of the most dreaded murderers in history; one man driven by sworn duty, and the other man by vengeance; a psychological thriller based on documented fact, written after years of research into this compelling and nearly unbelievable chapter in the true history of 19th century British occupied India.
While no one knows for certain, it is estimated that in the 18th and 19th centuries there were no less than 50,000 unsolved murders in north-central India. By other estimates, more than one million died at the hands of a secret cult of murderers known as the Thugee. The indisputable fact is that for centuries entire caravans of innocent travelers in India would simply disappear without a trace. There were the usual reasons offered, any or all of these may have been a factor – but the truth was far more macabre, gruesome and horrifying. It was cold, calculated mass murder – carried out with methodical precision by a cult devoted to the goddess Kali.
In the year 1829, Captain William Henry Sleeman, an officer in service to the British East India Company, began to suspect a pattern to these disappearances. After capturing and deposing suspected cult members, he convinced the Governor, General Lord William Bentinct, to appoint him head of the newly formed Department of Dacoity and Thugee. Sleeman quickly discovered that all the rumors were true: The Thugee, a secret cult of clever and stealthy murderers, were responsible for stalking and slaughtering hundreds of travelers each year on the lawless frontier roads of India. The Thugee were masters of deception. The cult was so secretive and brutal that the modern term ‘Thug’ survives to this day.
When a Thug named Fandoor Das Gupta allows himself to be captured by Sleeman’s Hunters, a new twist to the drama unfolds. The Thug, an admitted murderer, is also a remarkable artist who, by perfect recall, draws portraits of wanted criminals with a degree of accuracy that astounds Sleeman and his officers. Fandoor, in return for a temporary commutation of his death sentence, promises to become an informer and help Sleeman find the dreaded and wily Feringeea, ‘Prince of Thugs’. His intimate knowledge of Feringeea’s hiding places, the fact that he is an adoptive brother to the murderous criminal, and his superior talent as an artist makes Fandoor Das Gupta extremely useful to Sleeman. The Colonel conditionally agrees to Das Gupta’s offer to lead him to capture Feringeea, the most vicious Thug in all of India. Colonel Sleeman has no idea that the Thug artist, Fandoor Das Gupta, has a secret agenda –he wants to kill The Prince Of Thugs with his own hands once he is secure in Sleeman’s prison. Because of the murder of Feringeea’s scorned wife, Kali Bibi a high priestess of Kali, who was also the artist’s secret lover, Fandoor Das Gupta is willing to give up everything, including his freedom and his life, to avenge her death.
The Light Horse is a meticulously researched novel set in 19th century British India. This bold adventure novel will appeal to readers interested in British Military History, life as an Anglo/Indian trooper in an Irregular Light Cavalry unit, true crime mysteries, and military tactics and armament. It is written in the style of roman à clef; using factual persons and events, and warmly rendered in the style of a classic historical fiction.
It will be published by Booklocker Press, and available in Early April as an Ebook.
Please visit jdbrayton.com for excerpts and other short writings.
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