1795. Inventor James Watt is accused of stealing a patent for a steam engine by the McCloud brothers.
Furious with their boss, they take their technology to France, where Napoleon Bonaparte promises great things to come.
The French and the English are at war, and a steam engine would be very valuable, allowing either side to leap the channel.
Jacob Fletcher is a career navy man.
Whether he wanted to be or not is open for debate. He is serving on the Serpant, under the inept Captain Cuthbert Percival-Clive, whose mother is Prime Minister William Pitt’s sister.
Captain Percival-Clive has no interest in anything to do with his ship, and spends as much time as possible lounging in hotels, leaving all the work to Fletcher.
During a test to see if Fletcher is fit for promotion, a civilian named Rowland sits in.
But the mysterious Rowland has more in store for Fletcher than a test.
Fletcher is tasked to find and destroy anything he finds at sea regarding the steam engine, before the French can build one.
A deal is struck, but when Rowland says he must also kill the McCloud brothers, the English-Scots who betrayed their country, Fletcher is not sure how far he is willing to go.
Promoted to captain and given his own ship, the adventure that lies before Jacob Fletcher will challenge his resolve.
Before the story is over, Fletcher will be tempted by the Devil, garrotted, and nearly blown up – all on the same night!
Told through the diary dictated to his reluctant clerk, and intended for his nephews, the life of Admiral Sir Jacob Fletcher is a rollicking adventure, and a great look into life on the high sea.
Praise for John Drake
‘Broad comedy, high drama, plenty of action, a pinch of sex … the genre has room for this cheerily debunking outsider’ – Daily Mail
‘Swashbuckling adventure on the high seas doesn’t get much better than this. […] John Drake writes beautifully, and you’ll be torn between savoring the words and quickly flipping the pages. Any favorable comparison to Stevenson or Patrick O’Brian is totally justified.’ – Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times bestselling author
John Drake trained as a biochemist to post-doctorate research level before realizing he was no good at science. His working career was in the television department of ICI until 1999 when he became a full-time writer. John’s hobby is muzzle-loading shooting, and his interests are British history and British politics (as a spectator), plus newspapers, TV news, and current affairs. He is married with a son and two grandchildren.