"A Private Revenge" by Richard Woodman
A Nathaniel Drinkwater Novel

After defeating and sinking a Russian two-decker off the west coast of America with his own once two decker (now cut down to a frigate) the Patrician, our Hero, Nathaniel Drinkwater, along with his crew and over 100 Russian prisoners, heads for China. After weathering a severe storm, they come upon a dismasted trading brig, which they take in tow and head up the Pearl River for Canton. There the British are having trade and payment trouble with the Chinese. He repairs his ship and is ordered by admiral Drury to escort several company and country ships to Penang. He takes aboard a secret passenger that some how has obtained the missing specie (silver payment due to the traders). This person turns out to be Morris, a foul and despicable past acquaintance, once a fellow midshipman and commander. Morris sabotages the convoy and two of the ships are lost to pirates, along with most of the specie. After escorting the remaining ships to Penang, Morris convinces Drinkwater that he knows where the pirates are and that both the ships and specie can be recovered. They set sail and the treacherous Morris deserts and takes Drinkwater's trusty boatswain as hostage. A couple of vicious battles, one at sea and one in the very pirate's nest, then ensue. The evil Morris turns out to have been the leader of the pirates for years. But since there are more Drinkwater novels, you know that most things turn out well in the end.

This was a very good read, but I was not as taken with it as I was with other similar series (O'Brian, Pope, Lambdin, Kent...). Maybe it was because this book was the only one in the series I have thus far been able to find and it is well into the sequence.

Reviewed by Ken Smith, 30 June, 1999

Available from:
Mariner' Library Fiction Classics
Sheridan House Inc.
145 Palisade Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522