Harbor of Spies
HARBOR OF SPIES is an historical novel set in Havana in 1863 during the American Civil War, when the Spanish colonial city was alive with intrigue and war related espionage. The protagonist - a young American ship captain by the name of Everett Townsend - is pulled into the war, not as a Naval Academy midshipman, as he had once hoped, but as the captain of a Havana-based blockade-running schooner. Even as Townsend gets entangled in the war effort, he also finds himself being pulled into the dangerous investigation of a murdered English diplomat which threatens his own life. Townsend becomes ensnared in the investigation of the Backhouse murder by rescuing a man from the sea, who turns out to be a prison escapee from El Morro Castle. That good deed to help this stranger condemns the protagonist himself to a Spanish prison, and sets in motion a plot where Townsend struggles to maintain his own sense of identity. He falls into the clutches of a Spanish merchant, who is making money off the American war, who introduces him to a world of spies, slave traders, and Spanish seductresses. From the bars, to the docks, to the dance halls, Townsend takes us into colonial Havana and then to the slave plantations in the interior even as he prepares his ship to run the blockade. The protagonist's trouble-ridden experience leads him to become emotionally involved with the daughter of an American innkeeper in Havana. Together they help each other grapple with the uncertain moral terrain of a city caught up in the American war and the growing controversy over slavery. Throughout the novel, Townsend can never shake loose the mystery about the man he helped save. As a foreigner and an outsider, he finds himself trapped by mysterious forces and circumstances beyond his control which ironically help him discover his own family roots in Cuba, and finally convince him to become a spy for the North. The novel is not only a richly drawn portrait of Spanish colonial Havana in the days when Cuba was flush with sugar wealth, but also provides a realistic look at the blockade runners that helped form the supply line into the South's Gulf ports. A little-known fact about blockade running in the Gulf of Mexico in the early years of the Civil War is the important role that sailing schooners played in bringing arms and ammunition into the shallow harbors, bays and inlets that line the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas.

Harbor of Spies Details

TitleHarbor of Spies
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 1st, 2018
PublisherLyons Press
ISBN-139781493032266
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Harbor of Spies Review

  • Ethel
    January 1, 1970
    Harbor of Spies by Robin LloydIt's 1863, America's Civil War is raging and 19 year old Captain Everett Townsend steers his blockade-runner schooner into the harbor at Havana. This young man had taken over the command of the schooner unwillingly when the original captain met his end during a horrific storm. While overnight at anchor in the harbor, upon hearing the cries of "help" a man called Michael Abbott was rescued and brought aboard. Colonial Havana is a dangerous city, with the heavy stamp Harbor of Spies by Robin LloydIt's 1863, America's Civil War is raging and 19 year old Captain Everett Townsend steers his blockade-runner schooner into the harbor at Havana. This young man had taken over the command of the schooner unwillingly when the original captain met his end during a horrific storm. While overnight at anchor in the harbor, upon hearing the cries of "help" a man called Michael Abbott was rescued and brought aboard. Colonial Havana is a dangerous city, with the heavy stamp of Spanish authority, you have to tread carefully. The story begins as Townsend is drawn into a mystery surrounding Abbott and a murder that happened 8 years ago. Trapped via this investigation, Townsend finds himself involved with blockade runners, as he becomes captain of a schooner running from Havana to Southern Gulf ports, where cotton is the cargo, and the runners are helping the Confederacy. We follow him as he explores Colonial Havana, to the sugar plantations where slavery is held in the highest regard, a fact that he is morally opposed to. He has much to learn, including the secrets regarding his own family history, that of his mother who herself was born in Cuba and left as a young woman. Becoming emotionally involved with a young woman, the daughter of an innkeeper, they both get caught up in the American Civil War, and the controversy over slavery. Spies abound, who is and who isn't, given that the English, the Spanish and everyone else have their fingers in the American war. There is money to be made and slavery to be kept alive and well both in Cuba and the Confederacy. Conflicted with his own morals and what he is doing as a blockade runner helps set the wheels in motion in a story that is exciting and intriguing. Robin Lloyd paints a very good description for the background of this story. You cannot help but see in your mind's eye what Colonial Havana must have looked like in 1863. The color, the vibrancy of the city as well as the island of Cuba, despite the crime, and the authoritarian culture of the Spanish military, jumps out throughout the book. If you are a fan of historical fiction, if you enjoy reading books that keep you excited from beginning to end, this book is highly recommended. Thank you to NetGalley for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • C.R. Elliott
    January 1, 1970
    *I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*Harbor of Spies was an unexpected delight. A work of historical fiction that doesn't dwell too heavily on the romance or the lessons of history but instead just throws you into that world. The book follows a lot of the usual structures of an "every man" story because Everett is able to slip in and out of many worlds easily and if the story was about his internal world it would have been stunted but instead he's the i *I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*Harbor of Spies was an unexpected delight. A work of historical fiction that doesn't dwell too heavily on the romance or the lessons of history but instead just throws you into that world. The book follows a lot of the usual structures of an "every man" story because Everett is able to slip in and out of many worlds easily and if the story was about his internal world it would have been stunted but instead he's the ideal vessel for us to glimpse into the world of trade during the civil war. Robin Lloyd's research allows him to paint a world of subtle hues with enough light and shadow that it is easy to transpose ourselves into a different time and follow a path that feels effortlessly contemporary.The book's pacing, drama and plot twists are even and I like that it's a book I can recommend to someone seeking a light novel and to someone wanting something that makes them think. Harbor of Spies scratches the surface of how trade, politics, race and making a living all criss-cross in meaningful ways. But, as in all good fiction, it is the characters and how they arrive at their choices that drew me in and made this book a new favorite.
    more
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    A Wonderful readMr Lloyd has written a book that not only grips the reader from the first pages but holds on through the twists and turns it takes. His words bring to life the time and place of Cuba in the mid19th century in a way that makes one feel as if a part of the story. It was educative while entertaining and I find myself hoping that there will be a sequel. This being his second well written book, I can only hope he is on a roll.
    more
Write a review