In my view, Reefs and Shoals is the best Alan Lewrie book since Baltic Gambit. The previous three books have seemed more intent upon tying up loose ends than moving the Lewrie story forward. Some of those tied up ends were long overdue. The detestable Choundas had become a Monty Python skit. More’s the pity since he was an excellent villain. Some of the ends were sad. The killing off of Caroline without a true reconciliation between her and Lewrie was a shame. She was an interesting character in her own right and made some of Lewrie’s best and worst traits more obvious. Bringing back two of his French paramours along the way seems to add little of nothing to any potential story line.
On the eve of Trafalgar we find Lewrie cooling his heels in the Bahamas. Will he make a surprise entrance much as he did at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent? Or will he become involved in the minor British campaigns against French Caribbean possessions? More intriguingly, will he somehow end up with the American Navy and his son, Desmond, during the First Barbary War? He does, you will recall, have significant ties with that young fleet.
Lambdin has foreshadowed that Trafalgar will be of some significance to Lewrie because we know that Hugh Lewrie will be there aboard whatever ship, be it Aeneas or Pegasus, that Lambdin finally decides upon. With his father at death’s door, cut off from his brother-in-law, Gouvernor, because of his chronic infidelities, loathed by his daughter and nearly so by his youngest son, will his only close relation be swept away by French roundshot leaving Lewrie very alone in his middle years?
Will he marry Lydia? He got damned close in this episode (though there was an echo of how he and Caroline decided to get married from The Gun Ketch).
Has Lewrie reformed? Though a commodore sailing on Admiralty orders, Lewrie managed to stay remarkably chaste while cruising the American southern Atlantic seaboard.
So I’m doing what I haven’t done for the past three years: looking forward to the next Alan Lewrie novel.