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Sharpe's Havoc


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About the Author

Bernard Cornwell worked for BBC Television for seven years, mostly as a producer on the Nationwide programme, before taking charge of the Current Affairs department in Northern Ireland. In 1978 he became editor of Thames Television's Thames at Six. Married to an American, he now lives in the United States.


Double trouble: even as he battles Napoleon's forces in Portugal, Sharpe must look for a missing English girl. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

The 19th novel in the bestselling Sharpe series is set in 1809. Sharpe and his squad of riflemen, with Sergeant Patrick Harper, is in Oporto on the River Douro in northern Portugal, trying to rescue a British mother and her 19-year-old daughter. The daughter, Kate, disappears, and Sharpe has to find her, but is cut off when the bridge is broken. They join forces with a fugitive group of Portuguese soldiers in order to fight their way back to the British lines, but something happens which cancels their orders. Then Sir Arthur Wellesley arrives to take command in the south, and Sharpe breathes again. It is a great story, brilliantly told, which will undoubtedly sell well this coming spring, and is always lively and entertaining.

Sharpe fans who may have worried that Cornwell's popular series was drawing to a close can heave a sigh of relief-the 19th entry (after 2002's Sharpe's Prey) brings the up-from-the-ranks rifleman back to the Peninsular War where the series began, among such familiar comrades-in-arms as Sergeant Harper and the "old poacher" Dan Hagman. In the treacherous villain role without which no Sharpe adventure would be complete, the Shakespeare-quoting Colonel Christopher plays both sides of the fence in an effort to contrive a peace between the warring parties that will leave him a rich man. But Christopher hasn't reckoned with the new British commander, Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, who arrives in time to catch Marshal Soult's invading army by surprise. Meanwhile, Sharpe and his men, cut off in a Portuguese village, hold off superior French forces with the aid of Lieutenant Vicente, a Portuguese lawyer, poet and philosopher turned soldier. Sharpe's antilawyer barbs, as well as some later banter about the troubled relations between the English and Irish and between the Spanish and Portuguese, provide comic relief, while Kate Savage, a naive 19-year-old Englishwoman seduced by Christopher, lends relatively minor romantic interest. A delicious scene at Wellesley's headquarters, in which Sharpe has to account for his seemingly inactive role, will please aficionados, as will the ringing words with which Cornwell closes his customary afterword on the historical background: "So Sharpe and Harper will march again." (Apr. 1) Forecast: An eight-city author tour, his first in the U.S., plus the human interest story of the author's recent discovery of his biological parents after being give up for adoption at birth, should ensure that Cornwell builds on his ever-increasing U.S. sales. Whether Cornwell will clamber up national bestseller lists, though, as he routinely does in the U.K., remains to be seen. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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