Friday, May 23, 2014

Crossover Cover: Hoare and the Headless Captains

In this novel by Wilder Perkins, the second of three naval mysteries featuring Bartholomew Hoare, one of Hoare's men uses the phrase "the lesser evil," which reminds Hoare of “the jape invented by one of the more successful frigate captains—Bolitho? Cochrane? He was wont to challenge a new acquaintance to a wager upon which of two beetle larvae, chosen at random from among those tapped from a piece of ship’s biscuit, would be the first to reach the edge of the table. The unwitting newcomer naturally chose the larger grub. When it lost, as it always did, Captain Whoever would joyfully advise the stranger ‘always to select the lesser of two weevils’ and nearly burst his breeches with laughter at his own paltry jest. Aubrey. That was the joker’s name. Lucky Jack Aubrey, they called him, from the wealth of prize money he had won at sea—and squandered ashore.” Lucky Jack Aubrey appeared in a series of novels by Patrick O'Brian, and was brought into the CU by a reference in Jess Nevins' story "Rocambole: Red in Tooth and Claw." The "lesser of two weevils" quote first appeared in O'Brian's The Fortunes of War. Richard Bolitho is the protagonist of a series of novels by Alexander Kent, and this crossover brings him in as well. Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, is not a fictional character, but a real person who served as a Naval captain during the Napoleonic Wars. In the third Hoare book, Hoare and the Matter of Treason, which I have not yet read, Hoare encounters Horatio Hornblower, a clerk named Cratchit (presumably a relative of the Cratchit family from Dickens' A Christmas Carol) and a man named Lestrade (who is described as resembling a ferret, as was Inspector Lestrade in the Sherlock Holmes stories, suggesting that Perkins' Lestrade is an ancestor of Doyle's character.)

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