Having found myself temporarily deprived of Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novels and totally dissatisfied with Julian Stockwin’s Thomas Kydd novels (despite the slamming cover art by Geoff Hunt) I’ve been searching for other naval fiction to use as a focal point for the historical features on this blog.
As I mentioned, I’ve rediscovered Dudley Pope’s Nicholas Ramage and I suspect I’ll get around to doing the same for Alexander Kent’s Richard Bolitho. In the meantime I found my local library carried some of the Richard Delancey novels by C. Northcote Parkinson. And I’ve decided to read this series as well as Pope’s Ramage novels for the time being.
Stylistically, Devil To Pay, the first Delancey novel published, but the second chronologically, leaves one with many conflicting opinions. The Delancey character is interesting but the writing style is terse. Rather than drawing you into the story, the narrative hurries rather than rushes along as if Parkinson is inconvenienced by the process of bringing Delancey to the action.
We are told a lot about Delancey’s character, rather than being allowed to discover it, and many instances that seem tailor-made for character development are quickly brushed aside.
Devil to Pay is reminescent of C. S. Forester’s Midshipman Hornblower in that there are plots and action for several novels woven into a single volume.
Parkinson, though, obviously understands sailing and life within the wooden walls. In this first volume there are a tad too many happy coincidences for my taste but overall it was an enjoyable read.