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"An overwhelming, outstanding novel...!"—Irish Times
Captain Jack Aubrey, accomplished at sea but dreadfully vulnerable on land, finds himself ashore after a successful cruise. With his prize money burning a hole in his pocket, he is persuaded by a kind stranger he meets at a tavern to make certain investments. This innocent decision ensnares him in the London criminal underground and in government espionage?the province of his friend Stephen Maturin, now tasked with rescuing his imperiled friend as he also attempts to locate his wayward wife, Diana Villiers. Is Aubrey’s humiliation and the threatened ruin of his career a deliberate plot? This dark tale is a fitting backdrop to the brilliant characterization and sparkling dialogue which Patrick O’Brian’s readers have come to expect.