This rousing third installment in the adventures of a British naval lieutenant shows him caught up unwillingly in an Anglo-American conspiracy.
Martin Jerrold, out of favor with the powers-that-be, must leave England fast. However, before he can journey to New York in 1806, he’s given a surprise assignment by his old friend Nevell, a secret agent who has just mugged another lieutenant in order to grab a letter being sent by rogue elements in the Admiralty. Jerrold must deliver the letter to a man in Pittsburgh, then find out about the scheme and stop it. On the high seas, there is a spirited engagement with a Spanish privateer, and Jerrold emerges an unlikely hero, stirring the admiration of two of his fellow passengers: Lyell, a corpulent, villainous English businessman, and his coquettish daughter Catherine, the intermittent love interest. Back on land, it becomes clear that Lyell is one of the conspirators, bankrolling a scheme whose mastermind is Colonel Aaron Burr, the former vice president. Burr intends to invade the Spanish colony of Mexico. The winding trail leads through Pittsburgh and down the Ohio River to a magnificent island mansion, where Jerrold delivers his mysterious letter and discovers that it promises British naval help; it’s been written by his uncle, a big cheese at the Admiralty. Jerrold’s Houdini-like escapes from disaster (“drinking and fleeing have always been my chief accomplishments”) are a constant pleasure, whether on land or sea. Before returning to England, he will be ferried through the Louisiana bayous by henchmen of the pirate Jean Lafitte, and take command in a dogfight with a Spanish frigate.
An action/adventure writer at the top of his game.