I read this book about 21-May-2002. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1974. This note was last modified Thursday, 19-Dec-2002 16:30:48 PST.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
The mystery this time is that post office packet ships are disappearing far too often -- to the extent that it's seriously interfering with military and government activity.
Pope uses this as an opportunity to go into considerable detail on how the packet service operated, both officially and unofficially, which I found fascinating. He discusses rates of pay from governers down to letter carriers, and how much postage was.
Yorke, the rich shipowner from the previous book, carries through into this one, and plays several important roles. Jackson, Southwick, and some of the seamen are also still with us.
To solve things finally, Ramage and his men have to take the place of some of the crew of a packet, and watch how the French privateer captured it, and why. Turns out the men and officers make much more from insurance fraud than from either trade or their salaries.