Adult Historical Fiction (310 pgs.)
The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica hold out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capitol, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses.
In this steamy climate there's a living to be made, a living that can end swiftly by disease--or by dagger. For Captain Charles Hunter, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking, and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it.
Word in port is that the galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in a nearby harbor. Heavily fortified, the impregnable harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of the Spanish king himself. With backing from a powerful ally, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the Spanish outpost and commandeer El Trinidad, along with its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of island legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he even sets foot on foreign shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure...
If you know me and my pirates, then you know that as soon as I saw this book at my local library, it was in my hands and I was out the door.
I had heard of the author Michael Crichton before. (Who hasn't?) As the writer of the mega-blockbuster hit Jurassic Park and the creator of the hit TV show ER--one of the longest running primetime TV shows, if not the longest--I went into this book expecting quite a lot.
I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. I don't know how you could write an underwhelming book about pirates, but Mr. Crichton managed to do it somehow.
But I do have to be fair. Pirate Latitudes was published posthumously, after the complete manuscript was found in Crichton's files after his death in 2008. I think that if Crichton had more time with his manuscript, time to tweak it and make it really great, it would have been a much better book. But sometimes, fate has other plans.
Onto plot. As I was reading, I kept waiting and waiting for the real sense of "piratey" adventure to hit me, that wonderful feeling that I absolutely love about pirates... and it never did. All the action was just kind of... there. It didn't pull me in, get my blood pressure up the couple points I'm used to.
There was nothing special about the characters. Absolutely no character development to be seen whatsoever. In the end, Crichton provides what fate the characters met in history, and as I read the author's note, I kept thinking to myself, "I really don't even care what happened to these people." Crichton never built that strong character-reader connection.
Historical accuracy was okay. Nothing elaborate or special. Researched, but not well-researched. I actually think this would be a good book for a guy who's not so into reading and is kind of testing the waters of historical fiction. It's definitely a guy's book.
Overall, I think whoever found this manuscript should have left it alone. I just can't imagine the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER wrote this. Obviously, if the manuscript was fully completed, Crichton would have published it himself much earlier.
I like to describe this book as an R-Rated version of Pirates of the Caribbean, just sans the adventure and cool characters. A few bedroom scenes, some graphic violence.
Book #6 in Historical Fiction Reading Challenge