Julian Stockwin,
Thomas Kydd #14: Caribbee
(Hodder & Stoughton/McBooks, 2013)

Julian Stockwin's Kydd series took a downturn in the middle, but it's wholly redeemed itself in the past few books. My complaint, therefore, is not with the author, but with the scribe who pens the summary for the cover!

Yes, it happened again. In this case, the teaser tells readers of a murder, with our hero Tom Kydd the apparent killer. But this doesn't occur at the start of this new book, Caribbee -- no, it falls on page 294 of a 320-page novel.

Why, I ask in all seriousness, would someone give away such an important plot point in a two-paragraph summary?

It's a damned shame, I tell you.

That careless revelation aside, Caribbee is another fine tale in the ongoing Kydd saga. Following the disaster at Buenos Aires (detailed in the previous book, Betrayal), Kydd finds himself in the Caribbean protecting British merchants from privateers and French frigates alike. When Napoleon issues a mandate making trade between Britain and mainland Europe illegal, British trade -- and the British economy, which depends heavily on its Caribbean exports -- suffers mightily. It falls to Kydd to ferret out the base of French operations and make shipping safe once more.

The action is plentiful, ranging from ship-to-ship combat, a frightful hurricane, land assaults, spying, possible romance, uncomfortable personal revelations, pending mutiny and a terrible figure from Kydd's humble past.

Oh, and there's a murder, but you already know that.

Still, poor copywriters aside, Stockwin's series is going strong and shows no signs of losing steam any time soon. As always, I look forward to Kydd's next adventure.

book review by
Tom Knapp

7 June 2014

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