HALFHYDE AND THE CHAIN GANGS by Philip McCutchan

HALFHYDE AND THE CHAIN GANGS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Twelfth in the Victorian British naval series featuring Lieutenant St. Vincent Halfhyde, who is generally impecunious, uppity, whip-tongued and not without a woman somewhere. The Boer War is breaking loose on the African Cape. Halfhyde, who is on reserve status, has just returned to London with his own merchant ship, the Taronga Park, when the Royal Navy recalls him to active service. He's given charge of the Glen Halladale and ordered to transport gangs of convicted felons from prison to South Africa: the prisoners have volunteered to work for the Queen in the war rather than rot in prison. But Halfhyde is not entirely an idiot and knows that the gangs will try to take over his ship while on the high seas and give the Queen a fond farewell. Meanwhile, Halflayde's marital state deliquesces rapidly. His virgin (?) wife, the horsefaced Mildred, daughter of Vice Admiral Sir John Willard, still prefers her showhorses to Halfhyde and will not see him. But Halfhyde, who has the bloody-mouthed Aussie Victoria Penn in tow, is not sex-starved, though he does treat this baggage roughly. And when the Glen Halladale sets sail with all its ruffians aboard, Victoria's there too, having had herself smuggled aboard in a turtlebacked trunk, When the varied mutinies and hand-to-hand battles finally break loose, Victoria's safety is much on Halfhyde's mind. The battles, though, are run-of-the-mill bloodlettings for Halfhyde fans and have taken on a balletic familiarity as they sway back and forth above and below deck. All in all, some fun for newer or younger readers, but nothing fresh.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's