DEAD RECKONING by C. Northcote Parkinson


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Fourth in the Richard Delancy series about the British Navy in the age of sail, and for sea buffs only: romantic interest is nil, the only woman in the story being entirely off-stage for the bulk of the book. Parkinson is primarily interested in strategy during action as Delancy, now a post-captain, is sent to the East Indies with a small fleet intent on protecting merchant men from French privateers and on capturing the pirates for prize money. The Napoleonic Wars are in full tilt. Delancy makes his first triumph by disguising his ship and staging a ""mutiny"" which allows him to get close enough to a French frigate to give it a hellish rakLng. After this success he's sent out to seek and destroy the French ship Subtile, which is upriver in Borneo when he finally corners it. Then he is elevated to command of a very large captured French frigate (Minerve) and sails it into action against two other ships after the capture of Mauritius. This has never been done before, capturing two ships with one ship, but Delancy's masterly handling of the Minerve outwits the enemy. For his successes he is knighted and reunited with his wife, Lady Fiona. Parkinson's officers lack the harsh edge and blister-raising authority that might give a lustier sense of life in the Royal Navy in those days.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin