"The Only Victor" by Alexander Kent

This is the 18th in the Richard Bolitho saga. This book starts in 1806. Bolitho is sent off to South Africa to oversee the taking of Capetown from the Dutch. This done, he returns home and is then sent on s secret mission to Copenhagen to negotiate with the Dutch in hopes of peace. The mission fails and he is betrayed. On the way back to England they are beset by two French frigates and a sloop and only the intervention of his nephew Adam. The other English frigate under his command had failed to meet them. After this fiasco, Bolitho is given command of a new 2nd rate of 90 guns, The Black Prince. He is then on station in the North Sea on blockade duty for several months. The British then decide to invade Holland and the second battle of Copenhagen ensues. His old friend Herrick is escorting the supply convoy when he is attacked by the French. The convoy is chewed up and Herrick refuses to surrender. Bolitho arrives just in time and slugs it out with the main French ship, which happens to be the one that sank the old Hyperion.

Captain Keen is Bolitho's Flag Captain and trusty Allday is there as always (remember Bolitho's 1st coxswain Stockdale?). I was not as keen with this book as I was with all the others. At times it bordered on being a cheap romance novel when it was dealing with Bolitho's great love, Catherine, and the scandal surrounding their blatant love affair. Other than that, the action is top notch.

Reviewed by Kenneth S. Smith 20 April 2000

McBooks Press
Ithaca, New York

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