The book: It is 1863 in Havana, during the American Civil War, and the Spanish colonial city is alive with espionage. Harbor of Spies: A Novel of Historic Havana (Lyons Press) is the story of young American ship captain Everett Townsend, who is pulled into the war as captain of a blockade-running schooner. After rescuing a man outside Havana’s harbor, Townsend becomes entangled in a murder investigation and is forced to work for a Spanish merchant who introduces him to a world of spies and slave traders. As a foreigner and outsider, Townsend struggles to maintain his sense of identity while becoming ever more involved with the mystery surrounding the murder.
The author: Robin Lloyd ’73 was a foreign correspondent for NBC News for many years. He also reported on the White House during the Reagan and Bush administrations, and he is the author of another historical novel: Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain’s Tale.
Opening lines: “A lighthouse gleamed over the massive stone fort like a Cyclops peering out to sea. They’d seen its beam thirteen miles away when they were halfway between the Salt Cay Banks and Matanzas. The young man on the American merchant schooner Laura Ann was standing by the foremast, his hands resting on the ratlines. He rubbed his cheeks where a stubbly beard has started to grow in. He felt awkward and undeserving, calling himself captain. He had signed on as first mate in New York, and now, two weeks later, he was the ship’s captain. His change in status was not a promotion but a necessity, and it did not make him feel proud.”
Reviews: “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… This second seafaring novel by Robin Lloyd cruises at hull speed.”—David Ignatius, The Washington Post