Jester's Fortune

Dewey Lambdin, Author Dutton Books $26.95 (373p) ISBN 978-0-525-94482-9
The eighth title in the Alan Lewrie adventure series (after The King's Coat) finds our hero in 1796 the commander of the sloop HMS Jester, one of four Royal Navy ships patrolling the Adriatic. Napoleon has been marauding in Northern Italy and the squadron's duty is to maintain the Alliance's shaky ties with Venice. Feeling shorthanded, the flotilla's leader decides to enlist, sub rosa, some Balkan pirates on the English side. Lewrie is justifiably hesitant about this ploy and, as events ensue, he's proven right when the Serbian pirates engage in an orgy of gut-churning brutality. The face of ethnic cleansing has rarely looked so ghastly. Lambdin offers views of new places here (Corfu, the ""fabulist sham"" of Venice); exotic history (someone calls the feral feuds of the Serbs, Croats, Greeks, Turks, Albanians, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims ""rather complicated""--British understatement raised to a new level); and inner workings of a craft (sailors' life, aboard and ashore). There are successful sea actions (and prize money), a bloody denouement with the Serbian pirates and, for the ""bit unconventional"" Lewrie, who is somewhat of a scamp, a new romantic entanglement. Readers of the series will not be disappointed in the ending, although Lambdin should lose his annoying tendency to mimic phonetic speech, which seriously slows the plot (e.g., an Austrian officer/translator remarks, ""He asks me, are we de British Royal Navy vich hezz so vahry much silver to buy brat unt sheep""). But fans will find plenty to like in this colorful adventure. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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