For Balladeer’s Blog’s Number One Harry Flashman Novel click HERE . For background info on George MacDonald Fraser’s infamous anti-hero Harry Paget Flashman you can also click that link.
9. FLASH FOR FREEDOM (1971)
Time Period: 1848-1849
Favorite Book Blurb: “Only Harry Flashman, that swashbuckling gremlin in the works of 19th Century history, could start out running for a seat in Parliament but wind up fleeing England over a gambling scandal, extortionately shanghaied onto a criminal slave ship, clashing with one of the African kings selling his own people to slavers, conning the American government, reluctantly working for the Underground Railroad and ultimately facing down a pack of southern slave-hunters side by side with a young Congressman named Abraham Lincoln.”
Synopsis: Wealthy John Morrison, Flashman’s hated father-in-law, still has Harry under his thumb money-wise. Morrison decides he wants a Member of Parliament in his control and figures Harry’s war hero status will make him a can’t-miss candidate.
For his part our scurvy protagonist gleefully anticipates all manner of graft money and getting to vote to send other people off to war for a change rather than being sent himself. With Morrison’s financial backing, Flashman finds himself in the political arena – an arena where other people are more skilled at cheating than he is.
Harry being Harry he also finds himself snogging in the grass with the real-life Fanny Locke (later famous as Fanny Duberly) and trading parlor-room insults with the likes of Benjamin Disraeli and Lord George Bentinck. At length a card-game scandal coupled with a charge of violent assault wind up forcing Flashman to flee the country for a few years.
With very few transportation options open to the on-the-lam scoundrel, Harry ends up on an outbound ship owned by his father-in-law but finds that he has once again gone from the frying pan into the fire. To Flashman’s great shock he learns that the ship he’s stuck on is a slaver – and that the illegal trade is a large part of John Morrison’s shady fortune.
Amid all this bad luck fate at last smiles on our protagonist when a crew-member that he befriends turns out to be an undercover Royal Navy Officer assigned to infiltrate and bring down Morrison’s sizable slaving operation. That officer – Lieutenant Beauchamp Comber – has clandestinely assembled a mound of incriminating evidence against Morrison and his agents. Continue reading