Marbeck and the Privateers: A Martin Marbeck Mystery

Written by John Pilkington
Review by Jeanne Greene

London, 1604. In the third of a series (after Marbeck and the King-in-Waiting, 2013), Lord Cecil gives his skillful intelligencer what appears to be a routine assignment; but Marbeck smells a rat. The accession of James I/VI to the throne in 1603 ended Elizabethan laissez faire on the open seas. Those who can no longer attack and loot Spanish vessels with impunity are finding more dastardly ways to use their ships. When Marbeck follows his suspicions, he uncovers the illegal operations of powerful pirates called the Sea Locusts. Like James Bond with a soft heart, Marbeck interprets his remit loosely, wins his battles with tricky weaponry, and rescues a helpless maiden, while ending a vicious kidnapping and slavery operation – which is exactly what Lord Cecil had in mind.

Marbeck’s extensive perambulations through named streets and neighborhoods are tiresome. The author knows 17th-century politics, however, and his plots are clever enough to hold the interest of discriminating readers. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a swashbuckling adventure.