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This 12th installment of the Alan Lewrie naval adventure series sends the British captain to 1799 New Orleans in pursuit of pirates. Unlike the manly, ship-shape society aboard his frigate, New Orleans seems dominated by seductive women, especially the coquettish pirate ringleader Charité, who is plotting an insurrection against Louisiana's slothful Spanish rulers that will reunite it with Republican France and forestall a takeover by the uncouth but energetic Americans. Crying "laisser les bons temps rouler," Charité fights for her right " 'to be French... to take joy in being sans moralité' "; for her, the French Revolution—the great problem of the naval adventure genre—is not a sociopolitical rupture but a new, unconventional defense of traditional Gallic decadence and frivolity against the encroachment of Yankee industriousness. Out of his depth, Lewrie confronts her unruly French femininity the only way he can on dry land—through noisy, seven-condom sex marathons ("her pleasure made her squawl out loud... grunting and lowing like a heifer being taken by a rutting bull") undertaken while his associates unravel the various intrigues. Throughout, Lambdin layers on period minutiae of clothing, weapons, customs and patois (" 'You cheese-paring bougre!' ") along with accounts of Mississippi valley trade and settlement patterns. A wealth of historical detail and lively, if stereotyped, supporting characters partly make up for the novel's slack plot and overdone sex.
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It is early February, 1799, a year of war.
Sailing in the Caribbean, Captain Alan Lewrie, RN, is once again pursuing a chimera.
A rich French prize ship he'd left at anchor at Dominica has gone missing, along with six of his sailors. What starts as a straightforward search for it, and them, from Hispaniola to Barbados, far down the Antilles, leads Lewrie to a gruesome discovery on the Dry Tortugas and to a vile cabal of the most pitiless and depraved pirates ever to sail under the "Jolly Roger" . . . and the suspicion that one of his trusted hands just may be the worst of them all!
Against his will---again---the usually irrepressible Lewrie is made his superiors' "cat's-paw" once more, and his covert mission this time is to go up the Mississippi in enemy-held Spanish Louisiana to the romantic but sordid port of New Orleans in search of pirates and prize, where one false step could betray Lewrie and his small party as spies. Beguilements, betrayal, and death lurk 'round every corner of the Vieux Carré, and it's up to Lewrie's quick but cynical to win the day wits for their survival and wreak a very personal vengeance on his foes!