Monday, November 22, 2010

For Love of Country

For Love of Country is the second entry in William Hammond’s Cutler series set during, and following, the American Revolutionary War period. It follows A Matter of Honor (2007), in which Richard Cutler and his family joined with the likes of Captain John Paul Jones to help win America’s independence. Now, in the mid-1780s, the Cutlers, a prominent shipping family operating off the coast of Massachusetts, are doing well despite the lack of an American navy to protect their vessels from those of hostile governments and Barbary Coast pirates.
As the story begins, one of the family’s ships has been seized, and its crew and contents are being held for ransom (or as the pirates prefer to call it, “payment of tribute”) in Algiers. Making the troublesome situation even more disturbing is that twenty-one-year-old Caleb Cutler is a member of the imprisoned crew. One of Richard Cutler’s brothers was brutally flogged to death by the British during the war, and he is determined that he will not lose another to a bunch of North African pirates. Now, having been granted official diplomatic status by the fledgling U.S. government, raised the funds to pay the ransom, and outfitted a small warship, Richard Cutler hopes to negotiate the return of the ship and its crew. The governor of Algiers, unfortunately, has other plans.

For Love of Country references the backstory of the first book in enough detail that readers will feel comfortable in their knowledge of what motivates the Cutler family and those around them. This is a closely knit family, one still recovering from the loss of one son when another is suddenly snatched from them. Recovering Caleb Cutler and his crewmates is the most important thing in their world and, over the next two years, it is all the family thinks about.

But Hammond’s depiction of family life of the period, however heartwarming it may be, is just part of the story. The author is a sailing devotee of some experience, and his narrative particularly shines when describing life and battles fought on the open sea. Hammond’s description of the book’s deciding battle between the pirates and Cutler’s crew is especially well written - exciting, but so precisely written that even non-sailors will have a clear understanding of the tactics used by both sides during the chase and resulting firefight.

Readers for whom For Love of Country is their first exposure to the Cutler family now will likely want to go back and read book one, A Matter of Honor. And those who have read both books will be looking forward to the third.

Rated at: 4.0
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)
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