In The Belly Of The Bloodhound
In L.A. Meyer’s fourth installment of this swashbuckling series set in the early 1800s, street-wise Jacky Faber is once again up to her scarred eyebrow in trouble. Sailing away from the battle of Trafalgar (and her great love, Jamie), Jacky steers her small boat toward the transatlantic shipping lanes. She soon crosses paths with a Yankee merchantman willing, for a price, to tow her back to the States. Once there, she fiddles, dances and sings her way up the coast to Boston – discreetly, of course – because she’s wanted by the British authorities for piracy (see the third book). She meets up with old friends who advise her that the best place to hide is in the newly rebuilt PeabodySchool for Young Girls (her alma mater, which she’d unintentionally burned down in book two). But while on a scientific outing, the entire student body is abducted and put on a ship bound for the Barbary Coast slave markets. Forced into the stinking hold, Jacky takes charge, displaying leadership abilities by making new alliances among old enemies and putting all her seafaring knowledge to good use. With military discipline, the girls plot and plan, with the help of Jacky’s almost magical sea-kit, whose contents save the day.
Jacky is a compelling, complicated heroine – tough but empathetic, lusty but loyal, effervescent but prone to bouts of depression – and the force of her personality will certainly carry this series through many more installments. This is a charming and rollicking tale, and an absolute joy to read.