It is 1861. Tom Wells is in pursuit of a girl from North Carolina. He accepts an offer from his employer to leave the quiet obscurity of his job as an office boy in a London shipping firm to cross the Atlantic to Nassau in the Bahamas. Now he must face the hazards of the Union blockade of the Confederate ports in the American Civil War. Tom’s bravado may help him with the dangers of running the blockade, but how will he cope with the conflicting issues of love, loyalty and morality as he becomes entangled with a lady of easy virtue in Nassau?
Tom’s adventures take him through the perilous triangle between Nassau, Charleston and Wilmington NC, where he must smuggle arms and munitions through a gauntlet of Union warships to the Southern ports, bringing cotton and tobacco back to Nassau. Blockade running steamships were sleek and fast, but they were frequently captured or sunk by their pursuers. As the pace of the Civil War quickens, so the dangers increase. Tom’s tangled love triangle heightens the tension.
David Kent-Lemon presents us here with a fast paced and dynamic narrative, exploring a fascinating, dramatic and less well known corner of that extraordinary conflict – the American Civil War. The characters are finely drawn, with the balance between deceit and morality offset by courage and humour. The realism and historical accuracy of the background complete the picture.
As the Civil War reaches its climax, so does the drama in Tom's life, heightened by the historical events within which he is embroiled.
Blockade-running blockbusterLloyd's List
RARELY does a shipbroker inspire a writer of fiction, but one of the founders of Galbraith’s has done just that, immortalised in a new historical novel. Blockade Runner, by David Kent-Lemon, follows the adventures of Tom Wells, an employee of Edward Pembroke.
Blockade Runner by David Kent-Lemon, is published by Pen and Sword Books. It follows the adventures of Tom Wells, an employee of Edward Pembroke, who runs the Union naval blockade of the southern states’ ports, smuggling arms to the south, and cotton out again.Shoes and Ships
Tom's high sea adventure is edge of the seat stuff, in some ways providing a marine counterpoint to Bernard Cornwell's Starbuck stories from the same era. The chase sequences show that Wells and his crew (including the wonderful swashbuckling Harry Mansell) are always on the verge of destruction. This is proof that the author can do 'unexpected' brilliantly for, like Tom, we can't foretell when the next emergency will occur. I found one event in particular a finger nail chewer. Also, on land we experience the effects of war, notably a 19th century blitz as a dinner party is shelled, again introducing doubt into the notion that southern man would endure.www.thebookbag.co.uk
Interesting snippets of information are also woven into the story, showing how England was tied in to the South's fate, e.g. via the effects of the 'King Cotton' legislation and American agents working in English harbours. Battle names like Shiloh and Manassas are mentioned in passing but in a way that makes us want to research independently, the conflict being personalised in the writing.
Now comes the scoring bit and I'm painfully conflicted. The excitement, information and suspense that flow from David Kent-Lemon's pen would make this an unarguable 5. However, the woman must be taken into account so, sighing sadly, it gets a 4. I await the next book with eagerness as most of this novel rates up there with Bernard Cornwell.