Alexander Kent,
Richard Bolitho #13: The Inshore Squadron
(Hutchinson, 1978; McBooks, 1999)

Trading the warmer seas of the Caribbean and Mediterranean, Richard Bolitho -- newly made rear-admiral -- leads a small squadron of ships into the cold waters of the Baltic.

The Russian tsar is making peaceful overtures toward Napoleon Bonaparte, and Britain is understandably worried -- particularly if the Danes and the Swedes follow suit. His patrol to suss out the situation in the Baltic leads to dramatic ship-to-ship actions ... and, eventually, Horatio Nelson's great victory at the Battle of Copenhagen. Bolitho, while not directly part of that devastating bombardment, takes on a fleet of ships and galleys that, if left unchecked, could have unhinged Nelson's strategy for neutralizing Denmark's role in the war.

But The Inshore Squadron, the 13th volume in Alexander Kent's long-running series, isn't all sea battles. There are drastic developments in Bolitho's personal life, particularly in his relationship with his nephew, Adam Pascoe, as well as a new love in his life. (One hopes this one doesn't end as tragically as the previous two.) Thomas Herrick, Bolitho's flag captain, continues to grow in command, and John Allday, his coxswain, remains a constant, never-failing presence in his life. There is diplomacy, a duel, a rogue mission or two and adventure a-plenty. Bolitho also suffers a terrible, life-threatening wound that sidelines him for a time.

The Bolitho series continues to grow in richness and strength. Kent (a pseudonym for Douglas Reeman) has created remarkable characters -- fortunately, I still have the second half of this series to read!

book review by
Tom Knapp

27 September 2014

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