Alexander Kent,
Midshipman Bolitho & the Avenger
(Hutchinson, 1978; McBooks, 2006)

They were going home for Christmas, a four-week leave of absence while their ship, Gorgon, was overhauled.

But midshipmen Richard Bolitho and Martyn Dancer find a surprise waiting for them shortly after arriving at the Bolitho home in Falmouth: the death of a revenue man in their vicinity, reports of smuggling and wreckers at work on the storm-tossed coast, and a small navy vessel, Avenger, dispatched to find and capture or kill the villains. Two more shocks await them: one, Bolitho's elder brother Hugh, a navy lieutenant, is in command of the mission, and two, Bolitho and Dancer have been conscripted to supplement his command crew.

This naval adventure is a far cry from the great battles with pirates that marked the previous book in the series. But there are dangers a-plenty here, from the smugglers themselves to the perils of serving under a brother with something to prove. By book's end, Hugh Bolitho's future in the British navy hangs in the balance.

Although a short novel by itself, Midshipman Bolitho & the Avenger was repackaged in 2006 with the previous novel and a shorter, newer volume that fills in another gap in Bolitho's life. The Complete Midshipman Bolitho is a must-read for fans of nautical adventure.

review by
Tom Knapp

10 April 2010

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