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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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Cover Art: Cinnamon and
        Gunpowder
Cinnamon and Gunpowder
By Eli Brown
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013, ISBN 978-0-374-12366-6, $26.00

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August 1819 may have begun well for Owen Wedgwood, but it goes downhill quickly. All thanks to pirates . . . and one in particular, Mad Hannah Mabbot, who wages war against the Pendleton Trading Company. The two would never have crossed paths, except that Owen is Lord Ramsey’s chef, and Lord Ramsey runs Pendleton. Or at least he does until Mad Hannah crashes a dinner party, shoots him dead, and kidnaps Owen. Imprisoned on her pirate ship, he has but one task – once a week he must cook a meal good enough to pass muster with a connoisseur of fine dining. If he fails, he’ll meet a fate akin to his employer’s. And failure looms large, even for this Caesar of Sauces. After all, being at sea means there’s a dearth of fresh vegetables, aromatic spices, and palatable food to work with. Not to mention the lack of adequate cooking space, let alone a true stove.
To further muddy the soup, Mad Hannah may rule with an iron fist, but Owen catches glimpses of the woman she once was. Then there’s her eclectic crew of misfits, a saboteur bent on stopping them, an inventive and enterprising privateer who hunts them, and the Brass Fox, another pirate who wants to forge an alliance with Mad Hannah, but at what price? His cryptic message, delivered by Owen himself, draws them into Asian waters, where the privateer lurks and no one may escape unscathed.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is not your run-of-the-mill, swashbuckling pirate tale. A decided lack of societal norms and whimsical dashes of love and hatred provide the perfect blend of sauces for this literary novel about piracy and British trade with China in the nineteenth century. Brown keeps you guessing as to which side is truly the more evil and which is more civilized.
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Review Copyrighted ©2014 Cindy Vallar


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