1810: The English and French forces face each other across
the Straits of Messina, with the French poised to invade Sicily.
It is up to army officer Captain George Warne to investigate
a possible spy as the French always seem to know what their
opponents are going to do.
If you are a fan of the exploits of
characters like Hornblower and Sharpe you will enjoy this
first novel by new author Richard Hopton. Warne and his company
wait anxiously as Murat’s forces amass ready for an
invasion, and the author manages to conjure up the atmosphere
of long periods of inactivity followed by quick bursts of
action. Two men clash over a visiting lady; Warne leads forces
on missions, spends time with his mistress and undertakes
spying to hunt out the traitor. Swirling through the story
are the frequent and vivid descriptions of the setting, with
Messina coming to life in a few strokes. The book ends tidily
enough but with many loose ends left tantalizingly for a possible
sequel. As well as Warne, there are quite a few other characters
with stories of their own, all of which have the potential
to make for interesting reading. I hope this materializes
and we get to read more about Warne and his men.