Halfhyde Ordered South Hardcover – Dec 1979
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"McCutchan brings . . . a driving style and a vast knowledge of and love for the sea that is certain to delight seafaring buffs." —Booklist --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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As a postscript, I notice that some reviewers are miffed about the author's apparent bias against and caricaturing of Chileans, especially their naval officers. This is unfortunate and I agree that he may have had some bad experience with the Chileans that fueled this bias. There is no question that the author shares his character Watkiss's animus against the Chileans (or "dagoes" as he calls them). That said, McCutchan is both entertaining and edifying, at least with respect to the British navy's practices and ethos of the 1890s.
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.