At the Edge of Honor

Written by Robert N. Macomber
Review by Gerald T. Burke

Peter Wake is a young volunteer naval officer whose background as a merchant marine has ill prepared him for the rigors of war. It is the American Civil War, and Wake engages the Confederate enemy on land and sea along the coast of southwest Florida. When the story opens, it is 1863, and he arrives at Key West to take command of the Rosalie, a small sloop. He quickly learns that his decisions in war can have capricious consequences, both horrifying and rewarding. Rapidly, he earns a reputation as a quick-thinking and resourceful commander. While in Key West, Peter falls in love with Linda, the daughter of a suspected Confederate sympathizer, which casts doubts on his future, both personally and professionally.

Throughout the novel, the author draws stunning images of land and sea along the tropical coast of Florida, which is a haunting contrast to the unfolding events. Essentially, the main characters are well developed, although Peter and Linda’s relationship sometimes becomes a romantic cliché. Also, at times, the story stalls, but it compensates with abundant historical details. Overall though, it is a worthwhile novel if you’re interested in 19th century naval or Civil War lore, and it hints of promise for future sequels.