Release date: 12/01/2003
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In this solid seafaring historical, the 11th in Lambdin's Alan Lewrie series, British Royal Navy Captain Lewrie is tasked with hounding his longtime nemesis, the brutal and cunning French commander Guillaume Choudas. Choudas has been sent to sow discord on the French Caribbean island of Hispaniola, where Toussaint L'Ouverture holds the reins of power after a slave rebellion in 1791. The British have a cockeyed scheme to back L'Ouverture's rival-in-arms, General Rigaud, against the rebellion's leader. Though opposed to the plan, Lewrie is under orders to support it. After harassing the French on his own, and killing one of Choudas's best captains, Lewrie covertly teams up with the newly minted American navy and lures the French Caribbean fleet into a trap. The American navy proves its mettle, badly mauling the French, and, after Lewrie has tricked Choudas once again with false information, the Americans capture the Frenchman. Lewrie and his Foreign Office spy compatriot, the highly competent Peel, go over the head of insipid regional spymaster Grenville Pelham to suggest further alliance with the Americans as a means toward British dominance of the Caribbean and Atlantic. Lambdin's villains are invariably either monsters or weasels, and Lewrie is never believably threatened by them, so there isn't much tension. But Lambdin's customary good humor, well-wrought naval battles and use of every ruse de guerre in the book provide enough moment-to-moment pleasure to keep this long-running adventure series afloat. (Dec. 12)