Balfour and the Shadow Pirate

Written by D. Allen Miles
Review by Ann K.D. Myers

Myles Balfour is the heir to his father’s shipping business and is being trained in the trade, serving on one of his father’s ships. However, the coastal waters of pre-revolutionary America are far from quiet, patrolled by British press gangs and pirates, and there is growing unrest among the colonists about the tariffs imposed by the Crown. On top of all this, someone is plotting against Balfour Shipping, and Myles just manages to escape an attack on his life. Other accidents are affecting both the business and the family, and Myles must figure out who is behind the family’s misfortunes before it is too late.

Full of detail about sailing and life at sea, Balfour and the Shadow Pirate presents a vivid glimpse of life along the American coast.  In addition to depictions of travel and living conditions, more serious topics such as slavery and the British tariffs are also touched on. The criminal underworld is revealed in all its gory detail, and the lifestyles and struggles of the middle and upper classes are portrayed as well.  Novice sailors are used to introduce the reader to sailing and ship terminology, and violent weather and sea battles add to the exciting plot. At times the number of characters make the story difficult to follow, but eventually everything comes together.

This book is packed with both historical detail and plot-related intrigue and would appeal to those interested in 18th-century sailing and shipping or to anyone interested in a close-up view of the lives of colonial American businessmen.