Sir Hugh Abercrombie very neatly sums up Bartholomew Hoare`s odd position in King George III`s Royal Navy.Because a throat injury suffered in the service of the Crown in the war with France has left Hoare fit to do no more than whisper, he is unable to command a ship. To a man raised in a navy family, this is a tragedy.But Hoare`s quick brain and extraordinary perspicacity has so impressed his superiors that he has been entrusted not only with the smallest ship and the oddest crew in the royal navy, but with state and military duties of great secrecy. As this book opens, Hoare`s wedding to the impressive young widow, Mrs. Eleanor Graves, is taking place.The Royal Duke, Hoare`s little ship, has been spruced up for the occasion, the brass polished and the carrier pigeons that share Hoare`s cabin hidden behind a curtain. But after the bride, attended by her friend Miss Jane Austen, ends the festivities by giving the order, "splice the main brace," Hoare`s commanding officer, Sir George Hardcastle, informs the new groom that he is to report to London and the head of the fleet as soon as possible for a special assignment. Initially, Hoare learns, his job is to find a missing man who has information about a conspiracy against the Crown, but the discovery of the fellow`s body is only the beginning of a long task.Eleanor, not a woman easily daunted, surprises Hoare by appearing in London with the waif they are planning to adopt, and setting up house in the outskirts. As Hoare pursues a variety of odd characters who might lead to the conspirators, peril closes in. There is an assassination, and a growing danger not only to Hoare himself but to his associates, his servants, even his new wife and their child.Readers who have grown fond of the quirky, determined and unusual naval officer and the picture of the seagoing military in King George`s day will be saddened to learn that this is the last of the series.The author, Wilder Perkins, died last year just after finishing Hoare and the Matter of Treason. He is missed.AUTHORBIO: Wilder Perkins finished this third and final book in the Bartholomew Hoare series shortly before his death in 1999. He made his home in Easton, Maryland.