Brilliantly styled tenth entry in the Alan Lewrie British naval series, set in the Napoleonic era (King’s Captain, 2000) and written by an American. This outing matches the darkness of Lambkin’s second installment in the series, The French Admiral (2000), which had Lewrie looking at the American Revolution through British spyglasses, fighting hopelessly on land alongside colonial loyalists at Yorktown, and facing atrocities everywhere. Series fans well remember Lewrie’s dissolute father, rakehell Major-General Sir Hugo St. George Willoughby, who screwed Lewrie out of his maternal inheritance and signed him over for life service in the Royal Navy at age 15, to rid himself of the lad and enjoy his late wife’s money—though Lewrie later regained it. So it’s shocking to see him out carousing on a day-and-night -long drinking ramble through London’s stews and gaming halls with the shamelessly lecherous and acidly jolly father. Now commanding the frigate Proteus, Lewrie finds himself under canvas for the Caribbean and Haiti and the blood-bedewed Black rebellion led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, there to match wits with other privateers off St. Domingue. His crew, racked by Yellow Jack and dying in droves, must be replaced by Black hands, slaves who’ve never worn shoes or sailing dress, or worked beside or eaten with whites.
Sizzlingly tropical and stuffed to the beams with salty parlance.