July 1806. Commanding a prison hulk filled with French captives in the Medway, Martin Jerrold thinks his war can’t get much better. He’s far away from storm, battle and the other disagreeable elements of naval life. He can keep his mistress, Isobel, close at hand. It seems too good to last, and so it proves.
When one of the passengers goes missing, Jerrold’s comfortable world is turned upside down. Summoned to London by the First Lord of the Admiralty, he is ordered to recapture the Frenchman at any cost. Jerrold does not know it, but his pursuit will take him clear across England: from the stinking marshes of Chatham to the slums of London; from the wilds of Dartmoor to the newly fashionable seaside resort of Brighton.
But why is the prisoner so important? At the post office, Jerrold’s old friend Mr. Nevell is curious; so, too, are politicians from the highest levels of the Whig government, and the Tory opposition led by the cunning Spencer Perceval. Even the seductive Princess Caroline takes an unexpected interest.
As Jerrold---with his usual mix of bad timing, bad luck, and bad behavior---closes on his quarry, he begins to uncover an extraordinary tangle of deceit and treachery that stretches back over twenty years to the most exalted levels of society on both sides of the Channel, and which some men will stop at nothing to protect.
”This is a great book, exciting and utterly unique. Edwin Thomas’s portrayal of the eighteenth century is spot on, from his depiction of the smugglers’ underworld to life aboard a small British navy man-of-war. Thomas has created in Lieutenant Martin Jerrold someone whom the reader of nautical fiction has never seen before---a character we love despite ourselves, and despite his many faults. For the lover of naval fiction, historical fiction, and mysteries, this book has it all.”
---James L. Nelson, author of Reign of Iron and the Revolution at Sea Saga series
”Well researched, charmingly outrageous debut. Enchanted readers loath to say bon voyage will impatiently await the sequel.”
”Jerrold swashes his buckles and splices his mainbraces to good effect, and this series will solve the gift problem for all armchair admirals.”---Scotland on Sunday (UK)
“At last, the nautical Flashman! Martin Jerrold loves to become one of the great British antiheroes, boozing and lusting his way through Regency England.”
---Andrew Roberts, author of Napoleon and Wellington