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I read a lot of Napoleonic naval fiction. I mean, a lot. If I went on Mastermind, I'd do the Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower......There's some pretty poor O'Brian and Forester imitators out there, but some crackers too.

For a fresh take on the era, there is Patrick Easter’s Cuckold Point (Quercus £15.99). Tom Pascoe, a laid-off naval lieutenant with an unhappy private life and a drink problem, is a river policeman in late 18th century London. He is incorruptible, but not beyond a bit of summary justice when the villains deserve it. Cuckold Point is the fourth in the series, and it is a breathless historical thriller told with panache. The violent underworld of London’s Docklands is conjured deftly, as Tom races an American spy and a cast of crooks for a cargo of stolen silk with a secret document hidden in the bales. Great fun, with a very bleak edge.

(I particularly enjoyed it having lived in Wapping, next to the real HQ of the Marine police, which Easter so vividly conjures)..

 


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