A compelling tale of press gangs, smuggling and brutal murder – a fascinating picture of the dark realities of British 18th-century naval life, from the author of A Fine Boy for Killing.
Jan Needle’s first foray into the world of 18th-century maritime fiction – A Fine Boy for Killing – has quickly gained him a considerable reputation. In a compulsive story of a bloody mutiny on the Welfare, he related how young sea officer William Bentley learnt a harsh lesson about injustice as he witnessed the barbarity of his uncle Captain Daniel Swift.
At the beginning of The Wicked Trade Bentley is reluctantly back in the Navy, finding life on his new London-based Impress ship, the Biter, something of a shock. For Will’s duties in the most reviled branch of the Navy involve him in the desperate task of forcibly pressing into service all the men he can find – on shore and in coastal waters – for the fight against the French. Yet there are some compensations: when not on duty, Will is free to go ashore, and his worldly-wise friend Sam quickly introduces him to the wilder excitements of London – its alehouses and brothels.
While offering a colourful portrait of life on the Thames and a fascinating picture of the role of the Impress, The Wicked Trade has at its centre a powerful story of murder. Two Customs men have been killed by smugglers in Hampshire in a manner considered brutal even for those tough times. Soon Will and Sam are risking their own lives as they become caught up in the bloody affair, eventually unearthing a story of high-level corruption – a huge smuggling operation, backed by some of the richest and most powerful men in the country.
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From the reviews of A Fine Boy for Killing:
‘Jan Needle’s tale is following in a great British tradition, but alters it savagely so that it is not the salt spray that remains in the memory but the steady trickling of blood. If you like your Hornblower with more than a lick of the cat, this is for you.’
‘A painfully authentic portrayal of naval life in the 18th century. A powerful story of lost humanity… its violent emotions are shattering.’
‘Exciting drama… in this enthralling novel the tension builds until mutiny is inevitable and the characters are drawn into a destiny of fear, love, hatred and horrifying tragedy.’
From the acclaimed author of 'A Fine Boy for Killing' comes a fascinating story of naval life in the eighteenth century – a dark tale of press gangs, smuggling and brutal murder.
The war with France has brought many changes to British life. While the governments and their navies are locked in patriotic conflict, some of the finest of both nations' seafarers cooperate clandestinely in a 'Free Trade' of increasing ruthlessness – and the Impress Service's struggle to man His Majesty's ships grows ever more difficult.
It is to that most reviled part of the Navy that William Bently, survivor of the bloody Welfare mutiny, is assigned when he reluctantly resumes his career. Behind him, as ever, lies the dark shadow of his uncle, Captain Daniel Swift.
As an officer on the Biter, a Press tender based in the London River, he learns about the darker side of city life. With his fellow officer Sam Holt, he also has his first appalling encounter with the Free Trade as the Biter ranges coastal waters to prey on returning merchantmen.
Worse is to follow, however. For when Will and Sam are caught up in the investigation of the deaths of two Customs officers at the hands of smugglers in Hampshire, they have no idea that behind it are some of the most powerful men in the country, who will do anything to protect their investments.
'The Wicked Trade' is at once a compelling novel of intrigue, love and betrayal, and a fascinating work of naval fiction, full of vivid historical colour and dramatic maritime action.
A native of Portsmouth, Jan Needle has had a lifelong interest in the sea and naval history. Under his pseudonym Frank Kippax, he has published four acclaimed thrillers. Under his real name, Jan Needle, he has a successful career as a TV scriptwriter and as a writer of highly popular children's books. His previous novel, 'A Fine Boy for Killing,' also features William Bentley.
From the reviews of 'A Fine Boy for Killing'
"Jan Needle's tale of eighteenth-century naval life is following in a great British tradition, but alters it savagely so that it is not the salt spray that remains in the memory but the steady trickling of blood. If you like your Hornblower with more than a lick of the cat, this is for you."
"A painfully authentic portrayal of naval life in the eighteenth century. A powerful story of lost humanity… its violent emotions are shattering."
"Exciting drama… in this enthralling novel the tension builds until mutiny is inevitable and the characters are drawn into a destiny of fear, love, hatred and horrifying tragedy. This absorbing study of the realities of life on board ship two hundred and fifty years ago is the first in a new series of naval adventures – I shall look forward to the next."
YORKSHIRE GAZETTE & HERALD
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Book Description HarperCollins, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used; Good. Bookseller Inventory # 1920614
Book Description Hardback. Book Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Bookseller Inventory # GOR002794460
Book Description London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1998. Hardback in Dust Wrapper. Please note that at 1Kg. this book will require additional postage outside of the UK. | Dust Wrapper over Black boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. 9½" x 6¼". 378pp. Cover art by Geoff Hunt. | First Edition (First Printing). For more photos or information, use the «Ask Bookseller» button and I'll be pleased to help. The book is in stock and ships from the rustic nirvana of Peasedown St. John, near Bath, England from a long-established bookseller - guaranteed by my reputation and the UK Distance Selling Act. Remember! BUYING THIS BOOK means my Jack Russells get their supper! Condition :: Very Good - in Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper sunned at the spine otherwise a very well presented copy. Bookseller Inventory # 178497
Book Description Harper Collins, England, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good -. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Library issue pictorial boards which have a small tear to the heel of the spine. Library markings to prelims. Jacket has creasing.Over 500 grams packed. Bookseller Inventory # 010607
Book Description Harper Collins, London, 1998. Hard Back. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. First. 8vo. Novel. Bookseller Inventory # 002811
Book Description HarperCollins, London, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: As new. Dust Jacket Condition: as new. First U.K. Edition, First Printing. hardcover. A fine tight copy in a fine unflawed dust jacket which is now protected in mylar. Appears as new. Bookseller Inventory # 553