The Straits of Treachery
Winner of the Society for Army Historical Research’s Fiction Prize 2020
The Straits of Treachery is my first foray into fiction. It is a tale of war, treachery and divided loyalties, set in Sicily in September 1810. British raids across the Straits of Messina to disrupt the long-expected French invasion of the island are betrayed to the enemy, with disastrous results. George Warne, a young British officer, having survived the raids unharmed, begins to suspect treachery. Back in Messina, ordered to investigate, Warne uncovers an underworld of spies, traitors and informers. When the French invasion comes, he plays a key role in its defeat. The novel’s rich cast of characters set against the stunning backdrop of Messina, the Straits and the surrounding countryside, brings early nineteenth-century Sicily vividly to life.
I have started work on the sequel, The Restless Harbour, which is set in Palermo. The action begins with the eruption of Mt Etna in November 1811 but soon transfers to the beautiful city of Palermo. Here George Warne becomes embroiled in a dangerous world of conspiracies and counter-conspiracies, violence and revenge, a world of dark corners, broken promises and lethal stilettos.
The story unfolds against the timeless backdrop of the city’s churches, its monasteries, its palaces, the port and the densely-packed slums, bringing the exotic Mediterranean city of Palermo vividly to life.
The Straits of Treachery is also now available in audio, in digital and CD versions.
‘It is 1810, and while Wellington’s army is trying to stop Spain and Portugal falling to the French, a much smaller British force is lining the coast of Sicily, braced for the invasion they can see massing on the mainland less than two miles away. This is the setting for Richard Hopton’s ‘The Straits of Treachery’, a historical novel about soldiers, spies and the messiness of Italian politics, with hefty slices of romance, dramatic scenery and the world of the Wellington-era British officer thrown in. I loved it – a cracking story about a place and time that even as a military history buff I knew little of. And George Warne of the Inniskillings is a great addition to the roll-call of fictional soldier-heroes of the Napoleonic wars, from Sharpe of the Rifles to Hervey of the Light Dragoons. More please.’
Dominick Donald, author of Breathe
Messina from the harbour.
The tower of the fort at Faro.
Messina’s waterfront, the Palazzata, in the 19th century.
“swashbuckling, suspenseful and elegantly plotted, an intoxicating romp through the treacheries, duels and bravery of the Napoleonic wars”
Vanora Bennett, author of The People’s Queen
Good Book Guide
“Fluent and entertaining”
Times Literary Supplement
“Learned … absorbing”