John Pearce faces a court martial, but will cowardly Toby Burns, chief witness, stand up to questioning? With the matter unresolved, HMS Hazard is put under the command of Horatio Nelson, with whom any cruise is bound to be eventful. Sure enough, battle is joined with two Spanish frigates, though success is short-lived and flight in the face of a superior foe becomes the only option.
In London, the government denies prize money for the cargo of silver Pearce took off the Santa Leocadia, claiming it as property of the Crown. Pearce’s prize agent seeks to fight this, only to be outmanoeuvred by the devious Henry Dundas. Worse, some very bad pennies from the past have come back to haunt the life of Emily Barclay and the thief-taker Walter Hodgson.
From Elba, Pearce is sent on a mission to collect fleeing members of the Corsican government – an assignment which seems simple but proves to be anything but. Seeking a solution which will not imperil his ship, he sets out to negotiate the aid of a local clan chief, inadvertently putting himself, his crew, and his rescued charges in jeopardy. Pearce finds himself trapped in a deep Corsican bay, facing odds of two to one, which he can only overcome by employing devious tactics. And even if he is successful, he will be forced to make a decision: to follow his instincts or to obey his orders.