Alaric Bond’s The Guinea Boat is the second novel he has written which departs from his Fighting Sail series. It is based around Hastings on the South Coast of England during the Peace of Amiens of 1803. The narrative switches focus between two young men, Nat and Alex, initially strangers who meet and become friends but find themselves on opposite sides of the struggle between the Revenue and the smugglers.
The boys are both outsiders to the close knit community of fishermen who are mostly involved in smuggling and therefore suspicious of Nat a newcomer to the town and Alex the son of a former local Revenue officer. Nat finds work with a fisherman who is also a bit of an outcast and has ambitious plans to have his own boat. After being caught by a hot press, the boys are freed when the tender they are on is attacked by the smugglers but they soon go their separate ways, Alex to join the revenue and Nat to join a smugglers craft.
Nat soon forms plans to fund his own craft by spying on the French and gets a surprise when he eventually meets the leader of the smugglers. A well paced story featuring various South Coast towms and action in the English Channel with a disparate bunch of interesting characters on both sides of the Smuggling/Revenue divide. Highly recommended.