The Halfhyde series had trouble finding an identity. The series is set in the 1890s. The hero is Lieutenant St. Vincent Halfhyde, RN who, because of his outspoken views on the shortcomings of the late Victorian Royal Navy, is given special assignments.
The series started out with Halfhyde plunged into a series of "Cold War" confrontations between Britain and Russia or Britain and Germany. But then the series took an abrupt turn featuring a brilliantly conceived comic figure, Captain Watkiss. Watkiss completely steals the show. Halfhyde seems like a supporting character when Watkiss is featured. McCutchan recognized that problem and killed Watkiss off but was forced to revive him later on. The last two Halfhyde novels are out and out humorous farces with Watkiss front and center.
In the present book, we have Halfhyde and Watkiss headed to Chile to upset the machinations of the German Admiral von Merkatz. This they manage to do in fine fashion. This is the first Halfhyde novels to prominently feature the nation of Chile. It would be featured in several more and it is by no means in a flattering depiction. One wonders if McCutchan had a lot of first hand experience in the country.
Unusually for a military series there is relatively little action in the Halfhyde series in general and this one in particular. The focus is on overcoming difficulties by clever plans and sheer luck and persistence. McCutchan's makes good use of his patented method of switching points of view and climbing into the heads of different characters.