Early Reviews for Harbor of Spies
Lloyd’s second novel, after Rough Passage to London, is a swashbuckling spy adventure set in 1863 Havana, Cuba, that follows Everett Townsend, an American sea captain arrested for sedition. To gain his freedom, Everett reluctantly agrees to become a blockade runner for a corrupt merchant, supporting the Confederate cause by using his ship to carry contraband war material to the South and return to Havana with valuable cargoes of cotton. This is lucrative but dangerous work; Everett evades blockading Union warships, becomes involved with an old unsolved murder, and discovers British complicity in the Spanish slave trade that drives the Cuban economy. Disgusted with Spanish brutality toward slaves, Everett agrees to spy for the Union, putting himself in even more peril and leading the story to a climactic escape sequence. Everett’s family melodrama and a romance plot are also included, but the real draw is Lloyd’s excellent historical detail.
“Harbor of Spies is that rare novel with the perfect mix of the magics. There is intrigue and romance combined with history and mystery set in a real time and place--colonial Cuba during the U.S. Civil War. The end result is a page-turning excursion through dangers and delights that will both entertain and enlighten. Enjoy!”
—Jim Lehrer, journalist and novelist
“Robin Lloyd has written a captivating thriller-at-sea in Harbor of Spies. This book is at once a spy story, a sea story and a love story. The setting is exotic and highly original--Havana in the 1860s. The scenes of battle at sea are beautifully rendered. This second seafaring novel by Robin Lloyd cruises at hull speed.”
—David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post
“Robin Lloyd tells the story of a young man’s moral journey set against the exotic, alluring, repellant background of colonial, slave-owning Havana during the American Civil War. Readers will be swept away by the drama, romance, and intrigue of this tale--taken from real historical events and made thrilling, memorable, and meaningful by a sure-handed author.”
—Evan Thomas, bestselling author of Being Nixon,John Paul Jones, and The War Lovers
Praise for Rough Passage to London
Pirate skirmishes, gale-force storms, human trafficking, and other high seas drama pepper Lloyd's poignant and action-packed debut about his real-life ancestor, Captain Ely Morgan. In 1812, young Ely and his older brother, Abraham, witnessed an explosive British raid near their home in Connecticut; they were pursued and fired upon, narrowly eluding capture and certain death. Eight years later, Ely left home to escape his father's temper and to search for Abraham, who had been mysteriously lost at sea years earlier. As the years away from home multiplied, Ely became a seasoned sailor, making devoted, loyal friends as well as vicious enemies. He ascended from novice sailor to captain to manager of the Black X shipping line by virtue of his hard work, intelligence and wit; Ely gained fame, socializing with Charles Dickens and other cultural figures. Yet, an introspective Ely had moments of self-doubt, questioning whether to quit his search and the sea: 'A life at sea can only lead to tragic loss, pain, and suffering.' More clues eventually lead Ely to discover a link between a slave syndicate, his brother's disappearance and his enemies, leading to shipshape conclusion. Lloyd crafts an engaging and thoughtful thrill ride; his mariner Ely Morgan is neither salty nor rum-soaked…he's the thinking man's swashbuckler.
NBC correspondent Lloyd draws on family history for his debut historical novel about his ancestor Capt. Elisha Ely Morgan. The book opens in 1814, when Ely and his brother Abraham witness a British raiding party torching American boats during the War of 1812. Eight years later, 16-year-old Ely runs away from the family farm in Connecticut after his family receives a letter stating that his two brothers are lost at sea. Lloyd convincingly traces Ely’s career as a seaman, moving across the years and marking his advancement. Not only are we taken on harrowing adventures (mutinies, death-defying sea rescues, political intrigue), but we are given clues as to what might have happened to Ely’s brothers. Eventually, Ely becomes a notable sea captain, sailing across the Atlantic more than 100 times and making friends with such 19th-century luminaries as Charles Dickens, who is inspired to model his central character in the story
“A Message from the Sea” after Ely. VERDICT This epic seafaring tale comes highly recommended for its exciting narrative and historical acumen. Lloyd’s research and personal connection to the past bring this tale to life, and fans of Patrick O’Brian will want to add this work to their reading list.
-Library Journal, starred review
Fact meets fiction to weave a fascinating, detailed sea tale inspired by what author Lloyd was told as a child, and then researched as an adult about his ancestor Elisha Ely Morgan, a famous sea captain who was a close friend of Charles Dickens. This is a must read for anyone who's a fan of nautical history, colorful yarns and skillful prose.
-Rick Martell, Cruising World, April, 2014
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