Dewey Lambdin chronicles the adventures, and comic mis-adventures, of Alan Lewrie of the Royal Navy. More Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones or George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman than C.S. Forester’s hand-wringing, insecure Horatio Hornblower or Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey, Lewrie cuts a wide and joyous swath through the American Revolution, “war on the cheap,” ‘tween the wars, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Great Age of Sail . . . tongue firmly planted in his cheek all the way, truly a man of his times.
Alan didn’t intend to join the Royal Navy and become a hero for King and Country, but got “Impressed” in 1780 by his rakehell father, Sir Hugo St. George Willoughby, just before he was to inherit from his deceased mother’s side, and Sir Hugo needed the money “perishin’ bad!” Hard cheese for young Lewrie, being an official bastard (that would be said of him quite often in his career, none of it endearingly!) and shoved in King’s Coat in the middle of the American Revolution, made a Midshipman at 17, and torn from his carousings, late night partying, and the bosoms (so to speak) of willing young ladies.
The Royal Navy may beat nautical knowledge and stern Duty into him, drag him kicking and screaming into harum-scarum, neck-or-nothing action, but . . . give him but one day ashore, and Lewrie will usually find a way to get himself into trouble, mostly with the ladies (“some no better than they ought to be!”). Though he doesn’t gamble (not too deep, anyway) doesn’t smoke (except when with Muskogee Indians in Spanish Florida) and doesn’t get too “cup-shot,” his lifelong fascination for “doing the needful” will always trip him up.
No matter how drear a task Lewrie’s superiors at Admiralty give him, he’ll always find a way to liven things up, and do his foes “the dirty.” Lewrie may be bright, but not quite as “sly-boots” as he imagines, so the bad guys can take him two falls out of three, though he’ll find a way to win in the end, and “put the boot in” quite gladly! When things are going too well, Dame Fortune usually awakes from a nap and kicks him in the fundament, just to keep him humble.
Along the way there’s a colourful collection of characters (a host of ‘em female, o’ course!); “Captain Sharps” and cads, personal foes and his King’s enemies; pirates from the Caribbean to the China Seas, spies and finaglers of every stripe, jaunts to Africa, a traveling circus, rebels and royalists; grudges, spites, petti-coat interest and leery superiors, a suspicious wife and doubting in-laws, and, his cats, along with bastard offspring of his own, so many that one character termed them the “Lewrie Miscellany.”