Touch and Go, by C. Northcote Parkinson

by Peter on December 26, 2010

Richard Delancey has been called a “worthy successor to Horatio Hornblower”. I am not quite certain that this is true – but C. Northcote Parkinson’s series about Richard Delancey series is very good and well Touch and Go, C. Northcote Parkinson researched. Touch and Go is the fourth novel, chronologically speaking, in the series. The first, The Guernseyman, was about the beginning of his career in the Royal Navy. The next two covered his service as a lieutenant. The present novel starts with his promotion to command the sloop Merlin. It takes place in 1799.

Merlin is assigned convoy duty. However, she is a ship in need of discipline and training, and Delancey, being methodical and systematic of nature, sets about to do that. He is a good leader and has the ability to analyze weaknesses and strengths, and is soon able to turn the ship around. Soon he is able to show the improvements as well, when the ship captures an enemy ship during the siege of Vallette.

Later Richard Delancey has a brief encounter with Commander Lord Cochrane as well as a trip to a slave market on the North African coast where he buys a slave girl. He arrives in Gibraltar in time to participate in Rear Admiral Sir James Saumarez’ attack on the combined French and Spanish fleets 1801, an action in which he distinguishes himself.

Finally, as peace is on the horizon and he is being sent home to England, Delancey devices a scheme designed to make him some extra price money with some help from his smuggler friend Sam Carter. He knows of a rich prize, and even has a plan for capturing it. The question is whether he will be able to do it in time, before peace breaks loose and the opportunities for windfall profits disappear?

I liked this book a lot. It has lots of action and interesting descriptions of the Navy and the large battles Delancey are involved in. And C. Northcote Parksinson (the man who also formulated Parkinson’s Law) writes excellently. Recommended!

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