Tom Connery,
Markham of the Marines #3: Honour Be Damned
(Regnery, 2000)

Tom Connery concludes his Markham trilogy with another adventure ashore, this time escorting a French cleric and a deposed nobleman -- and the attractive young woman in their care -- to a church deep in French-held territory where a treasure awaits.

Lt. George Markham, still leading a mixed band of ex-soldiers and marines, has regained a measure of his tattered reputation after the events in Honour Redeemed, the second book in the series. With a hint of promotion in his future, he is first sent on a dangerous mission with a dashing young ship's captain to find the treasure and bring it to British hands.

Of course, entire French armies stand in their way. And Captain Germain, who seemed so promising at first blush, proves unequal to the task when his ship has its first encounter with a band of French privateers.

Markham quickly finds himself butting heads with his erstwhile commander, doing his utmost to carry out his mission and bring his charges home alive.

He's a good protagonist whom I will miss, now that the series has ended. Unfairly branded a coward for past actions, he has proved to be extremely capable in the field, earning the grudging respect of his men along the way.

Other characters, mostly fictional, figure heavily along Markham's path, although a couple of real figures from the era -- including Admiral Samuel Hood of the British navy and a young Corsican officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, who again crosses Markham's path -- make important contributions to the plot.

The only real failing here is the end, a four-page epilogue that feels hurriedly tacked onto the story, offering an implausible sequence of events that alter Markham's standing ... again. Perhaps Connery had only just decided to conclude Markham's saga and felt the need to punctuate the ending -- but he should have done a better job of wrapping up the series.

book review by
Tom Knapp

10 February 2018

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