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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


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Books for Adults - Fiction

Cover Art: The Captain's Nephew
The Captainís Nephew
By Philip K. Allan
Penmore, 2017, ISBN 978-1-946409-36-2, US $19.50
Also available in ebook formats

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During the Royal Navyís assault on Ostend, First Lieutenant Alexander Clay is tasked with leading a shore mission to prevent the garrison of French troops at Nieuwpoort from reinforcing Ostend. The straightforward plan is to land, blow up a bridge, and wait for HM Frigate Agrius to return to retrieve them, but the plan goes awry almost from the start. Not only must he play nursemaid to his captainís inexperienced nephew, but getting to their objective is fraught with complications no one expects, their arrival is noticed, and the uncooperative weather and water conditions prevent an easy recovery. Clayís ingenious idea for getting his men back to their ship saves them from capture and they return to England to await their next assignment.

Captain Percy Folletís report of the incident, which soon finds its way into the newspaper, gives credit for the incident not to Clay, but to his nephew, Lieutenant Windham. Lacking an influential mentor and not coming from a wealthy family, Clay fumes at the injustice done him. His only hope of advancement and gaining his own command is through his initiative and accomplishments. It grates that the undeserving-of-his-rank second lieutenant should garner the accolades that rightfully belong to him. When he questions Captain Follet about this injustice, a rift develops between the two men.

The Agriusís next assignment is to escort a convoy of East Indiamen part of the way to India. The commander of the merchant ships invites all the navy officers aboard his vessel for a formal dinner, much to the chagrin of Clay. He much prefers the regimented wooden world in which he lives and he never knows what to say to women. He is pleasantly surprised to find that one of the ladies, Lydia Browning, is a friend of his sister and, by eveningís end, heís captivated by Lydia. In the days that follow they become closer, but on the night he decides to declare his intentions, Captain Follet orders him to remain on Agrius. A marriage between Clay and Miss Browning would be totally unsuitable, and her uncle has asked the captain to intervene. Thus the rift between Clay and his commanding officer widens, and soon the crew becomes aware of it. The majority support Clay.

Once the Agrius bids farewell to the merchant convoy, she heads west to take up her new station in the West Indies. She is also tasked with finding and destroying a larger, more powerful French frigate bound for the island of St. Lucia and carrying much-needed stores and troops. In spite of his anger, Clay efficiently carries out his duties, but Folletís resentment of his first officer leads to complications that endanger the ship and their mission.

The Captainís Nephew opens with a mesmerizing and vivid portrayal of a man drowning and then regresses six months to show the events that culminate in this tragic incident. From first page to last, Allan bewitches and transports readers back to 1796 to walk the decks of a wooden ship and engage the enemy all the while experiencing what the characters endure. Equally compelling is that this is not just a tale of the officers of the Royal Navy. Interludes are woven into the story to personalize and recreate life on the lower decks, as well as to provide glimpses of what it was like for loved ones left behind. This first book in the Alexander Clay series offers a satisfying resolution of who dies, while only hinting at how it happens Ė an intriguing and perfect enticement for readers who will eagerly await the next chapter in Clayís pursuit of his naval career and the woman he loves.

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Review Copyrighted ©2018 Cindy Vallar

   
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