Sunday, June 5, 2011

Crichton's "Pirate Latitudes"

It was the last book written before his death, Michael Crichton’s “Pirate Latitudes” is full of action, color and a true history or pirates and Jamaica.

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”Pirate Latitudes” by Michael Crichton
Let us begin with some interesting background. The manuscript for this book was allegedly found on Crichton’s computer AFTER his death. It’s not clear if the manuscript was complete because, as I figure, if it was surely he would have submitted it for publication. Crichton is a well known author of considerable acclaim and the manuscript would have been accepted for publication no doubt without any hesitation.

Next, I too consider Crichton a formidable and talented novelist. My first exposure to Crichton’s word was “The Andromeda Strain” and then there’s “Jurassic Park” and on to the long-running television series “ER”.

A major difference between a very successful writer like Crichton and the more mundane is good writers, those who are actually WRITING a book instead of a screenplay, write prose, not stage/movie dialogue.

“Pirate Latitudes” is not written for the big screen though research shows the rights to this book have been purchased by Spielberg and it will no doubt be a movie soon enough.

And what a movie it will be as it was quite a book.

The book is based loosely on some real people living in 17th century Jamaica. The story begins with a bit of background, the establishment of Jamaica as an English colony, the worldwide presence of Spanish galleons, on to a society that frowned on piracy and considered it a crime.

Yet when Captain Charles Hunter began his journey to capture a Spanish galleon from a nearby Spanish island fortress, he did so at the behest, and with the financing, of the Governor of Jamaica.

The story of the trip begins and it’s action-packed with every passing word. Hunter’s ship is first taken over by a Spanish warship. After escaping this horror, the crew arrives at the Spanish island fortress of Matanceros. The story then keeps the reader sitting at the edge of the seat as Hunter’s crew climbs mighty cliffs and suffers nature’s most horrific offerings to finally arrive at their destination.

The Spanish ship is plundered of its treasure but escape is a bit more than a quick jaunt away by Hunter’s ship.

Coral-filled coves must be negotiated, cannons must be jury-rigged and retrofitted, enemy ships must be commandeered and to add to it all, before the reader can even begin to relax, a giant monster of the sea, a Karaken, believed to be giant squid, attacks Hunter's ship.

Hunter finally makes it back to Jamaica but more surprises await. For the Governor of Jamaica has been removed and the governance of the island has been taken over by a nasty fellow. Hunter is surprised at how he is greeted upon his return, booty in tow.

A final heart-breaking betrayal begins the story’s finale as the reader still chews fingernails in torment.

There’s not much more need be said except the book is written by one of the best, it’s a real page-turner, it’s filled with drama, history, action and yes, there’s some romance.

What more could the reader want?

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