Ramage’s Prize picks up shortly after where Governor Ramage, R.N. leaves off. Lieutenant Ramage is unemployed in Kingston, Jamaica and it seems unlikely that he will wring another command from Rear Admiral Sir Pilcher Skinner, the commander of the Jamaica Station.
Major spoilers follow.
Despite his promise to find a new command for Ramage, Skinner has reneged on the deal leaving Ramage and his friend Sidney Yorke searching for transportation back to England. Yorke is finding passage to England difficult of arranged because mail packets are being snapped up by French privateers at an alarming rate.
Ramage receives a letter from Skinner which would give him the task of investigating the disappearances. Ramage surmises it will lead to nothing good otherwise Skinner would have given the task to one of his favorites and Yorke suspects Ramage is being set up for failure in order to insulate Skinner and his favorites from blame.
Ramage reluctantly accepts the task and imposes some of his conditions upon Admiral Skinner as a price for taking on the task. One of which is the detailing a dozen of his former Tritons to him for the task.
He decides the only reliable way to investigate the loss of the packets, which seem to be much more likely to go missing when bound for England rather than outbound from England, is to accompany a packet home and investigate its procedures up close. In the process, he contrives to replace a dozen of the packetmen with the dozen Tritons.
It becomes quickly apparent that something is afoot that neither Ramage nor Yorke understand. The packetmen keep the former Tritons at arms length and they have a very easy coexistence.
When a French privateer appears, the packet captain seems to deliberately court capture. Ramage leads a mutiny of his own to resist capture. The effort fails and Ramage finds himself a French prisoner. In the process the reason for the disappearance of the packets becomes obvious.
Fortunately for Ramage, privateersmen fight for profit not glory and he is able to find a way to free himself and his men and bring the information that will solve the case to an Admiralty which is not overjoyed to hear the answer.