The Scent of Corruption
During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Royal Navy is the mightiest navy in the world. HMS Prometheus, led by Captain Sir Richard Banks, is ordered to sail to Gibraltar and join the Mediterranean fleet. Among his crew is Seaman Ross, a former officer now relegated to seaman duty; Officers Caulfield, Davison, King and Lewis, serving as Captain Bank’s Lieutenants; and a mysterious 19-year-old stowaway, Judith Kinnison, looking to return to Portugal.
After rescuing survivors from the Duke of Cambridge, a merchant ship, it is discovered that many on board are French sailors who are from the French battleship Belle Ile and are led by the Prizemaster David Carroll, an Irishman sailing for France. Troubles begin when Carroll bribes Kinnison in helping to overtake the Prometheus and sail for France.
In his seventh book in the Fighting Sail series, the author writes of the trials faced by the crew members of HMS Prometheus. There is not a protagonist in the story, although one could suggest that Captain Banks, Lieutenant King and Ross are the main characters. The crew members’ interactions, while dealing with the prisoner outbreak and the exciting conclusion, are what make this novel unique compared with most sea-faring stories. The novel is primarily a character study of the crew, who are always faced with the possibility the next battle may shorten their lives. The author places the reader into the thick of it, sharing the pain and the grief of the characters during their voyage.
A stand-alone book in the series, the novel is immensely readable and highly recommended. There is an excellent glossary included at the end of the book to help define the jargon used on board ship.