Lambdin's 12th Captain Alan Lewrie adventure begins in 1799 with the sadistic marooning of a small group of sailors on a desolate island in the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles off Key West. The pirates responsible for abandoning the sailors and stealing their boat - a rich prize captured from the French by Capt. Lewrie, Royal Navy - are four young French Creoles from New Orleans. Depraved, idle, rich and spoiled, these two brothers, their beautiful sister and a fourth man, determined to win the girl by proving his bloodlust, have taken up the cause of ousting the Spanish and returning New Orleans to its rightful French masters.
Lewrie, who would very much like to catch these pirates, finds himself down the Mississippi without a boat of his own. He has been ordered on a covert mission to scout out the political landscape and work out the feasibility of a British invasion to take over New Orleans. Posing as a security detail for a wealthy merchant shipper, he soon makes the steamy acquaintance of Charité, the ravishing and wanton female pirate, as well as her brothers and would-be lover, and an American contingent clearly up to the same invasion scouting as Lewrie.
There's a cartoony element to the swashbuckling - lots of "gawping" and "japing" - and the evil characters are particularly, but colorfully, one-dimensional. And the sex scenes are lustily over-the-top. But there's humor too and the historical setting is rich, deep and fascinating. Patrick O'Brian fans may not be satisfied, but those who would just as soon leave the social byplay out of their naval adventure should enjoy it.