THIEVES OF MERCY
If not quite up to the standard of his best naval historicals, Nelson's second nautical adventure set during the Civil War (after 2003's Glory in the Name ) offers a rousing plot and seafaring detail as authentic as any in the Hornblower or Aubrey/Maturin books. In Memphis in the spring of 1862, while Confederate Lt. Samuel Bowater awaits his new command (of an ironclad under construction), he attends to such matters as ghostwriting a dime novel, using the plot of Hamlet , for "Mississippi" Mike Sullivan, captain of the ram General Page , and later taking Sullivan's side when the captain thinks a troupe of Shakespearean actors has plagiarized his work. Meanwhile, Bowater's lover, Wendy Atkins, is trying to escape Norfolk, Va., before the city falls to the Yankees. In this effort, she has the help of her free-spirited Aunt Molly and the hindrance of Union Lt. Roger Newcomb. After making their way out of burning Norfolk, Wendy and Molly have an improbable if diverting meeting with Abraham Lincoln. Civil War buffs, particularly Southern sympathizers, will be well pleased. Agent, Nat Sobel at Sobel Weber Associates. (On sale Apr. 12)
FYI: A technical consultant on the film Master and Commander, Nelson has won the ALA's W.Y. Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction.