McCutchan's dashing 19th-century naval hero St. Vincent Halfhyde anchors in Portsmouth for the Queen's diamond jubilee--but Chilean terrorists threaten the parade. Halfhyde's many loyal and admiring readers will not be surprised to know that even in middle age and on half pay their hero has not mellowed. With no terribly hot imperial spots in need of his military skills, Halfhyde has turned commercial, steaming about the Atlantic on cargo runs in his own ship Taronga Park with his bawdy Australian mistress, Victoria Penn. Since he's still in the reserves, he and his ship are still available to their Lords of the Admiralty, who decide he is just the man to protect Admiral Watkiss, Command-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy, from death at the hands of disgruntled Chilean politicians. Watkiss, the loosest cannon ever to roll across a deck, is a retired Royal Navy captain hired by Chile's newly elected government to oversee the most inept sailors in the hemisphere, and he is bringing his flagship Almirante Smith to join the international naval salute to Her Majesty as she celebrates 60 years on the throne. Halfhyde quickly deduces that he will have to protect the madly blustering admiral from his own crew as well as from the bomb-throwing terrorists. Subplots include Watkiss's plan for a Salvation Navy, the assault of the admiral's grim, widowed sister on a bachelor clergyman, and Victoria Penn's assault on anyone who crosses her path. Less action than usual for Halfhyde, but quite a lot of Victorian amusement for genteel armchair sailors. The Queen, of course, is not amused.