Signal Close Action: (Richard Bolitho: Book 14) by Alexander Kent
When in 1798 Richard Bolitho hoists his broad pendant as commodore of a small squadron and prepares to re-enter the Mediterranean he is soon made aware of his responsibility. There are rumours of a massive French armada and of the latest type of artillery - and Bolitho's orders are to seek out the enemy and to discover the intentions of his growing force. Without any British bases in the Mediterranean, and unable to show favour to old friends, Bolitho is well aware that there are others within his ships who are no less dangerous than the enemy - and during the weeks and months in which the squadron faces the hazards of the weather and French broadsides alike, Bolitho knows that far more than his own future is at stake. A fleet, even a nation, could depend on his decisions and, when he places his squadron between the Nile and the power of France, he must accept the price of the challenge.