For Horatio Nelson, life on the West Indies station has been a disappointment.
While other men have fought the American rebels, he has been forced to cruise the Caribbean disrupting Spanish shipping, and harrying the pirates, privateers and smugglers moving contraband to the detriment of the English exchequer. Many of the smugglers hail not only from the Thirteen Colonies, but are themselves British. The work is mundane, with few opportunities for the glory he craves.
Sailing in consort with his friend Cuthbert Collingwood, Nelson has had some success, but has been thwarted time after time when his targets turn out to be legitimate traders. His prize money has been small, and Nelson knows that to succeed in his life's ambition he must be rich. To top it all, years of recurring malaria are destroying his health.
When the governor of Jamaica decides to send an expedition up the San Juan river to link the Caribbean with the Pacific Ocean, the potential prize is enormous. The Spanish Main will be split in half, and England will control the whole continent.
If he succeeds, Nelson's will be a hero. But the river is notorious as 'a hundred miles of white man's death.' Dense jungle, fever, snakes, alligators, mosquitoes, big cats – it has them all. And half way up the river is a fort full of Spanish soldiers.
Within weeks of landing the expedition at the river's mouth, Nelson is on a gruesome killing ground. And it seems unlikely that he will be among the few survivors...
Author: Jan Needle
Title: Nelson: The Poisoned River
Series: The Nelson series
First Published by: Endeavour Press
Date: 27 February 2014