Halfhyde and the Fleet Review

Philip McCutchan, Author
Philip McCutchan, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-312-06991-9
Paperback - 385 pages - 978-1-85389-835-8
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The bad news is that McCutchan's latest Halfhyde book ( The Last Farewell ) offers minimal seamanship; the good news is that even though his humor lacks some of its usual bite, he provides a high old time puncturing late Victorian mores. Merchant mariner St. Vincent Halfhyde's freighter has been ordered by the admiralty to attend the fleet review for Victoria's jubilee at Cowes to curb the overbearing impulses of popinjay Watkiss, Chilian admiral and possible target of an assassination plot. The story is an operetta without music--Watkiss wants to found a Salvation Navy, for example--and the only real damage is done by a sack of onions. British jingoism (``Of course he was a Chilean. He was ill-kempt'') is skewered and the dear queen (``an autocratic old woman who would never be told anything'') nailed. The saucy pertness of Halfhyde's Aussie girlfriend (``You bloody know it, too bloody true you do, but you don't seem to bloody mind''), however, palls on the first page. McCutchan also writes the Convoy and Commodore series. (Jan.)
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