This is the most recent book I devoured whilst sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring (the thing I am doing most often given the number of job applications I have sent out in the last few weeks).
I am quite a fan of historical naval fiction I enjoy in particular tales about the times of 'fighting sail' a genre best covered by Patrick O'Brien so this was something slightly different being set in the Victorian age, a time when paddle steamers which have sails were the norm. Very much a transitional period.
So it is reassuring though the locations and technology are very different to other books in the genre the characters are not so very different.
In this Christopher (Kit) Killigrew the headstrong second lieutenant of HMS Trisiphone is causing havoc among the Chinese Pilongs, with the capture of one of the most notourious of their number Zhai Jing-mu and the rescue of the merchants daughter Peri Dadabhoy and this before he and Trisiphone have even reached Hong Kong!
But this is China in the uneasy time after the first Opium War, and before the second, the Triads are gaining strength and they are plotting to overthrow the Chinese government but who is plotting with them? And are the Pilongs and Triads allies?
Killigrew meanwhile is sucked in to the centre of all of this intrigue after the Pilog he helped capture escapes from the island jail, vowing revenge on Killigrew, Peri and the marines who had been present at his capture. After becoming himself a fugitive how is it that he can possibly avert the toppling of the Chinese government and the starting of the second Opium War?
You'll just have to read this to find out wont you!
Overall I was quietly impressed with this book, it's the first of Jonathan Lunn's books I have read and I will be looking out for others. It is set in a different era to many historical naval books after all the Napoleonic Wars are so much more attractive to most writers but is a rather crowded shelf in the book store so the new point of view is refreshing. I think the main let down on the book is that in my view Kit Killigrew could be almost subsituted for Jack Aubrey (Patrick O'Brien's hero) as they both share the reckless nature which is entirely aimed at serving their country in the best way they can - by fighting in their Navy.
At times the action can be very quick and the twisting of the plot lines throws out what you think you know about the events in Hong Kong, but most of it remains within the relms of reality, there are a few events which you leave you thinking 'Yeah as if!' but they are soon forgotten in the new plot twist.
The scenes involving combat between the characters is as easy to follow as any such scene and the outcomes again defy what you might expect in reality but you know that the author cant kill his lead character so is also forgiveable.
I bought my copy from Morrisons as part of their 3 for £4 offer around 5 months ago (big pile of books Ive had on my floor!) but I would expect that it can still be found as part of offers or online at for a similar price (amazon are selling it for £5 or 1p in the market place). For the price I paid I think it was a good buy and I will be keeping an eye out for other Killigrew books but I wont be buying them at the higher prices - though thats true of any book not specifically Jonathan Lunn's.