"The Inshore Squadron" by Alexander Kent

In the 13th installment of the Richard Bolitho saga, we find Bolitho is now a rear Admiral in charge of another squadron with 3 74s, 1 64, 2 frigates and a sloop. He is ordered to the Baltic where the Tsar of Russia is trying to get the Danes to join with him in an alliance with the French. While in Copenhagen, the French Frigate Ajax slips out of the port and seizes several British merchantmen and holds them for the Russians. Bolitho aboard the frigate Styx surprises the Ajax and pounds him good and retakes the British Ships. He returns home to a luke-warm reception from the Admiralty and treachery from the Vice Admiral that commands his fleet. It seems that Bolitho's brother killed the Admirals brother in a duel over cheating at cards. This Admiral conspires to discredit Bolitho and damage him any way he can. On his way to London, Bolitho comes across an overturned carriage where he rescues his new love, Belinda.

The fleet is repaired and sent back to the Baltic where a two-pronged attack is led by Nelson in the Battle of Copenhagen. Bolitho's squadron is tasked with slipping in at night and interception the many Danish galleys and a few ships of the line are expected to counterattack once the British intentions are known. These rowed galleys are very maneuverable and mount a large cannon and are hell on large ships once the get on their bow or stern. One hell of a battle ensues and Nelson finally calls a truce after much carnage is done to both sides. Thus the Danes are discouraged from joining the Russians (which they didn't really want to do anyway).

Historical fact shows that the British had more casualties in The Battle of Copenhagen than in The Battle of the Nile. The Danish casualties were almost three times that of the British.

Again, many of the old hands and friends are with Bolitho; Herrick, Allday, Commander Inch, Nephew Adam Pascoe, and now captains  Kerverne and Vitch. Another Kent book of great fun and packed with action.

McBooks will be releasing chapters 14-18 this April and I will be one of the first to get them.

Reviewed by Kenneth S. Smith 24 March 2000

McBooks Press
Ithaca, New York

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