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This book is set during the Napoleonic Wars. Jack Lampray is the opposite of a conscientious young British naval officer. He hates his older brother, Norman, and sets out to destroy him. He wants to inherit Eagle Crest, the family home, and leave Norman out in the cold.
When his father disapproves of Jack’s lady friend, Jack is sent away to sea to serve under a friend of his fathers. Brother Norman soon follows. Jack manages to smile all the while, but secretly plans to level misery on his crew when no one is looking. He tries to kill brother Norman several times but fails each time.
Jack’s mean personality encourages his crew to secretly do him in when the officers are looking the other way. If there is anything evil that a man could do aboard ship, Jack has plans to do it. He even succeeds in cuckolding his captain aboard ship when the poor man has brought his wife aboard so he can get her with child.
Stu is a friend of Jacks, not by choice so much as because of a morbid fascination with the man and how he can continually fool so many people and get away with it. Most of the officers see Jack as a model officer. Stu stays with Jack to the bitter end taking notes on his perverted mind, preparing to write this story of his pathetic life.
Eventually Jack becomes disillusioned with the British Navy and leaves, taking a number of East Enders with him. They become pirates, but call themselves “privateersmen.” Eventually Jack ends up in China in the opium dens and becomes addicted. He is already suffering from venereal disease and is most sickly.
Stu tries to conserve what little money they have left and takes him back to the Caribbean to die in a naval hospital. Before he dies, Jack falls desperately in love with a beautiful nurse. He learns with his last breath who she really is. Stu goes on to write Jack’s story and becomes a credible historian.
Not recommended for persons under the age of 18.