THE PANDORA SECRET by Anthony Forrest


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Second novel in the Captain John Justice naval-intelligence series--and, as in the first (Captain Justice, 1981), there's a heavy troweling of first-rate period detail and set decoration, this time with a somewhat more active story. In 1804 Justice is ordered to attend to wealthy George Lilly's clandestine operation at his home at Cuffwell on the Beaulieu river: Lilly, you see, is building a secret ship in his shed--and it turns out to be the Pandora, the first submarine (or plunging-boat), originally designed for Bonaparte by Robert Fulton. . . who, disenchanted with Napoleon, has hastened to Cuffwell with his blueprints for the new weapon. But Fulton has now disappeared; the blueprints are secreted in an empty explosive mine with which Napoleon hopes to mine the English Channel; and someone has kidnapped little Emma, an illegitimate child of Fulton's. Are French spies out to kidnap Fulton via Emma? Should Justice trust his new amour--Lady Harriet Romney, a sexy feminist tomboy? What is the role of Capt. Justice's supposedly dead French cousin Luc (who happens to be Justice's exact double) in these shenanigans? Well, all becomes clear (sort of) in a climactic, miniature battle-at-sea, as Justice rams the sub and sinks cousin Luc. And, though the plotting is conventionally foolish and Justice is a faceless derring-do-er, this is sturdy, slightly above-average period action--with extra technical interest for early-sub buffs and for those who dote on authentic props and scenery. (""Anthony Forrest"" is a pesudonym for two English historians.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux