The Fox and the Fortune, first published in 1992, is Dan Parkinson's final contribution to the Patrick Dalton series. A shame, that. Not only will I have to forgo more of Parkinson's sparkling writing, but he leaves several plot elements unresolved. Perhaps he planned another volume that has not been delivered.
I certainly enjoyed all aspects of the book -- the action, DP's writing and the humor.
Dalton, still searching for his place in the world-turned-upside-down of 1778, finds himself in conflict with pirates who use the confusion of war to prey on merchant shipping. The pirates are appropriately treacherous and bloodthirsty and the action is compellingly written. Parkinson's delightful humor (as usual) centers around the ill-assorted groups of people that seem to stick to Dalton -- a couple of Frenchmen, a band of castaways and a group of lubberly and locust-like English colonists. A quibble: I could wish that Parkinson's French were better. He puts errors in the mouths of characters who are not likely to have made them. He seems sometimes to be spelling French phonetically, as if he learned it by ear. All well and good, but please, get a copy editor who can fix the French! (I'm afraid this is a problem for a number of authors of Historic Naval Fiction, including some currently writing.)
Dalton continues to be surrounded by the impressively-drawn supporting characters from the earlier novels, including the irrepressible Duncan and the lovely Constance Ramsey and her "whim of iron." Constance manages to bully her way into the male-dominated action, although Parkinson misses a chance to integrate her fully into the plot.
Knowing this was the last published book of the series, I expected Parkinson to settle Dalton's crisis of conscience, but I was disappointed not to get a final resolution. The pleasure that Parkinson's story-telling gives is as much a reason to desire another book as the need to see Dalton find his fortune, his flag, his faith -- and his girl. Alas, Dan Parkinson passed away in 2001, leaving a rich four-book legacy to readers of Historic Naval Fiction, not to mention his works of adventure and Science Fiction.
Description of: The Fox and the Fortune
Author: Dan Parkinson