The Art of Deception
or Pride and Extreme Prejudice
Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will now won’t come out via booktrope (they’re shutting down). It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. We’re following Roderick, Lord Fitzpatrick for the moment. Last week described the immediate consequences of his practical abolitionism. He’s in New York this week, having fled Washington. Unfortunately the British consul has decamped with a local beauty and instead of taking his ease while waiting the monthly packet, he is pressed into service. He’s also been landed dab in the middle of a diplomatic crisis brought about by an overzealous Captain. He’s dressing down a midshipsman in this section.
“What was your Captain thinking? Assuming he is capable of thought. Chasing a merchantman into New York harbour and then firing on her; let alone killing the helmsman – a Mr Pierce. There were riots in the streets yesterday.”
“She didn’t stop when we hailed her … the ball hit a different ship, the sloop Richard.”
Roderick rose and escorted the young sailor to the front window of the British Consul’s house in Brooklyn; the tip of Manhattan was visible, across the river, “Do you see that? The battery … the blasted Jonathans are rebuilding it … all the harbour defences … it’s now only a matter of time before we’re at war.”
The midshipman nodded, “How many guns?”
Roderick said, “It’s in the letter ;I know he won’t but I’m demanding that Captain Whitby leave; he’s causing more harm to the crown by stopping ships than the contraband he confiscates could ever do; you’re already banned from resupplying in any United States port.”
“Halifax isn’t far.”
Roderick quietly ground his teeth in frustration, “Why couldn’t the admiralty see that they were driving the American’s straight into the willing arms of the French? “
The date is shifted, but they are discussing the Leander affair. The British Navy stationed two warships outside New York harbor and intercepted American merchant ships. The ships were searched for contraband and often taken to Halifax as prizes. Eventually even the tax-averse Democratic-Republicans had to rebuild the navy and chase them away. Roderick is right, war with the Americans was only a matter of time after that.
Booktrope shuts it’s doors May 31. This opens a whole slew of questions, including whether to return to an earlier pen-name (R. Harrison being dead common.) It also means that come June 1, the current version of “The curious profession of dr Craven.” will be unavailable. I will get the rights back without trouble.
Frankenkitty is available.
What happens when teenagers get to play with Dr Frankenstien’s lab notebooks, a few odd chemicals and a great big whopping coil? Mayhem, and possibly an invitation to the Transylvanian Neuroscience Summer School.
Fort Pulaski, shown as the cover image, is a third generation coastal defense fort. I don’t have any pictures of Battery Park or Fort McHenry in Baltimore, which are second generation forts built at the time of the story.