In a nautical tale that leaks from stem to stern, a printer’s son survives one unlikely adventure after another after being shanghaied by British privateers.
First orphaned, then sold into indenture on a false charge, then clubbed and carried off to sea, 13-year-old Jameson finds himself sailing into the Caribbean aboard the Destiny, Captain “Attack Jack” Edwards commanding. Jameson inexplicably worms his way into the captain’s good graces despite being sullen, accident-prone and so slow on the uptake that he has to be told twice why the ship doesn’t fly British colors in enemy waters. He goes on at Edwards’ behest to bury a packet of maps in a secret cave during a wild storm for no good reason (except perhaps the general paucity of dramatic scenes), then, before sailing off to deliver the aforementioned maps to Queen Anne (this is 1713), he rescues the captain from being hanged as a pirate by forging a Letter of Marque. The author displays an incomplete knowledge of nautical terminology and the techniques of letterpress printing, and the climactic courtroom scene is so contrived that even Perry Mason would wince.
With the likes of Peter Raven, Tom Cringle and even Jacky Faber roaming the literary sea lanes, not even the frequent references to dung, dirt, blood and noxious foods are enough to float such an underresearched, arbitrarily plotted clinker. (Historical fiction. 11-13)