Twelfth Alan Lewrie adventure (Havoc’s Sword, 2003, etc.), this time about a quest for pirates that leads to the fathomless wildernesses of Louisiana.
Captain Lewrie is not a man to be trifled with. A born seaman and seasoned commander, he has brought his ship Proteus to the Americas at the onset of the Napoleonic Wars as an “independent” vessel at the service of the Admiralty—the better to engage in wholesale piracy against the French and Spaniards without violating the letter of maritime law. His hunt meets with quick success when he captures a French merchant ship stuffed to the gills with valuable cargo—but he suffers a sharp setback when the prize manages to escape, with several of his crew aboard. A wild goose chase through the Caribbean fails to recover the ship, though Lewrie later rescues his lost crewmen—all save one, who was murdered by the enemy hands. Set on revenge, Lewrie is determined to recapture his prize and deal with the killers. His bloodlust dovetails nicely with the designs of the Foreign Office and Admiralty, who want him to lead an expedition up the Mississippi in Louisiana (then held by Spain) to help establish British control over the region before the Americans beat them to it. The convoluted politics are a distraction from Lewrie’s usual ambitions of looking after his men, his reputation, and his fortune, but they result in a roundabout narrative that covers a lot of ground, changing course as often as a skiff in a hurricane. Of course, the real question, as always, is whether the captain will finally win the hand of his beloved Caroline Chiswick. A lot will depend on the booty, naturally, for (as Alexander Pope rightly asked) “what female heart can gold despise?”
Every bit as atmospheric and addictive as its predecessors.