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 Anthony Forrest: "The Pandora Secret" 
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Post Anthony Forrest: "The Pandora Secret"
"The Pandora Secret: A Captain Justice Story" by Anthony Forrest (pseudonym for Anthony Cave Brown and Norman Ian Mackenzie)

This is the second in the Captain John Valcourt Justice trilogy and closely follows the first novel ("Captain Justice") as the naval hero is again involved with infernal weapons of many designs. This time he is in England rather than behind French lines.

Spoilers Below!

Spoilers Below!

Captain Justice is sent on a mission by a secret organization within the British Admiralty to protect the submarine "Pandora" which has been built by Robert Fulton near Portsmouth. While a fictional story, much of what is said about, and by, Robert Fulton is historically accurate. Since I recently finished Kirkpatrick Sale’s biography of Fulton, it was interesting to note the many familiar names and hear again Fulton’s ideas and ideals taken directly from his papers. While Fulton did build a submarine for Napoleon (and dismantled it), his design for a second submarine for the British government did not progress beyond the design stage. This story supposes that it was built and creates a French plot to steal it.

Captain Justice has to confront a French cousin who was once his close boyhood friend and the sinister French spy-master who opposed him in the first novel (the blind Irishman Dr. Declan O'Moira). The climax occurs at sea but the remainder of the book is on land. Both authors are British so the descriptions of the terrain and cities seem as real as the British expressions used in the text.

I found the many weapons fascinating -- not just the descriptions of Fulton’s designs but of actual weapons of the period like the duck-foot pistol, the watch-knife, the pistol-knife, and the belt-buckle pistol.

There is an excellent map in the beginning and a "Historical Note" section at the end showing two views of Fulton’s actual plans for the British submarine as well as information on the period weapons. I always appreciate when an author adds such information.

Fulton's ideas about canal building and his steam ship are inserted in this book from real life details. Additionally, you do not have to know the real-life relationship of Joel and Ruth Barlow to Fulton to enjoy this novel. However, since they and other real-life characters appear, it might be more enjoyable for the reader to find out something of Fulton’s life before reading this book. It certainly added to my enjoyment. Sale's biography is great but there are numerous other books about his life. Certainly Fulton's ideals about how the world "should be" are interesting to read and think about.


Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:47 am
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