Much Ado About Lewrie (Alan Lewrie Naval Adventures)
All seems to be going well for Captain Sir Alan Lewrie aboard his ship HMS Vigilance. It’s early in the 19th century, and the British are fighting the French. Together with an army regiment, Lewrie’s crew wins a couple of hard-fought battles against the French in Sicily. But then he is ordered home for the Vigilance to be re-fitted. With no ship to command, Lewrie will be living ashore on half pay. It is some comfort that he will be with his beloved wife, Jessica. At this point that we discover that the novel is divided into four ‘books’. Book Two is a domestic idyll with Jessica at their comfortable home in London and then in the English countryside, where the major excitement is the purchase of horses.
Book Three sees Lewrie with his family and retinue of servants back in London on the trail of a gang of dog nappers who have attacked Jessica and stolen the family’s two dogs. After a successful scrimmage the dogs are recovered and Lewrie is hailed as a hero. In Book Four he is hot on the trail of art forgers, but his previous heroism is, as it were, rescinded.
This is Lambdin’s 25th novel, and he writes as if Sir Alan Lewrie is an old friend, almost an alter-ego. Literary structure and plot development are not strongly evident, but it hardly matters because the reading is pleasant and has the warmth of a well-told tale. It might be disappointing to some that the naval adventures are confined to the first part of the novel; clearly the naval aspect has been the heart and the strength of the series. But let’s allow the old sailor to relax and take some shore leave.