This review is for the paperback book Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. The book was published in paperback in 2009, and was sadly published posthumously as Michael Crichton died in 2008.
The basic plot of the book is set in the 1660s and involves Captain Charles Hunter who is put in charge ... Read review
For many years, Michael Crichton's name was a byword for intelligent, cutting edge ... more
fiction, frequently utilising striking new developments in science as the basis of his narratives, or (most famously in Jurassic Park) extrapolating scientific possibilities into highly exciting (if implausible) tales of adventure. After his recent death (at a relatively young age), it was salutary to remember that his writing career had been a very long one -- so that when he took a concept that he might have used before (i.e., high tech amusement park goes disastrously wrong with fatal consequences for visitors) he could ensure that there was a lengthy gap so that people barely noticed (look at the plots of Westworld (1973) and the aforementioned Jurassic Park). And now we have his final book, published posthumously, Pirate Latitudes. For once, though, it looks as if Crichton were following the pack rather than leading it -- but things are not that clear cut as they might initially have seemed.Pirate Latitudes takes the reader back to 1665, when Charles IIs Jamaican colony is under serious threat, besieged on every side by the voracious Spanish empire. At the centre of this troubled outpost is its crowded capital, Port Royal, a lively (if festering) hangout for criminal dregs, who inhabit its taverns and brothels. This is the time of the privateer, when (with tacit royal sanction), ship's captains could make sorties against Spanish ships and outposts, plundering at will -- just so long as the Governor and King Charles are taken care of. Michael Crichton's protagonist in this colourful mix is Captain Charles Hunter, educated at Harvard and a man with keenly developed survival instincts. He is made aware a treasure galleon, which is at anchor in the heavily fortified Spanish island of Matanceros, and Hunters interest is piqued -- not least because this means he will be able to take on Philip of Spain's most ruthless enforcer, Cazalla. The stage is set for what will either be a glorious bit of naval smash-and-grab or that will end in the ignominious death of Charles Hunter and his motley crew.All of this, of course, suggests that Crichton (always a man aware of the commercial possibilities of any material) had been looking at the phenomenal success of the Pirates of the Caribbean series of films, and there is no doubt that some of the spirit of fun to be found here echoes that of the Johnny Depp-starring movies. But Crichton clearly remembered an earlier era, and the swashbuckling style of the (less parodic) Errol Flynn adventues is actually the template here (you'll notice the comparisons drawn here are cinematic rather than literary -- but Michael Crichton always straddled the two fields, and was a successful film director as well as novelist). Perhaps Pirate Latitudes isn't the final triumphant legacy we might wish for from Crichton, but (taken in the right spirit) it's uncomplicated, fast-moving fun. --Barry Forshaw
Maybe too many characters which weren't always fully developed
"...is for the paperback book Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. The book was published in paperback in 2009, and was sadly published posthumously as Michael Crichton died in 2008.
The basic plot of the book is set in the 1660s and involves Captain Charles Hunter who is put in charge of a large expedition to Matanceros, a fictional island in Jamaica. He reaches there successfully, but then becomes engaged in a project to return another ship back to ..."
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Praise for Michael Crichton: 'A wonderful farrago! marvellous' Evening Standard 'A satirical black-comedy thriller! Crichton writes likes Tom Wolfe on speed! completely brilliant' Daily Mail 'A gripping, impeccably researched thriller!we don't get much politically engaged fiction these days. Here is a fine example' Evening Standard 'Exciting!a master storyteller' Sunday Telegraph 'Terrific fun. The pages whip by' Independent 'Intelligent, readable and guaranteed to get the grey matter going' Mirror 'One of the most ingenious, inventive thriller writers around! another high-concept treat!written in consummate page-turning style!fascinating' Observer 'This is Crichton on top form' The Times 'Mixing cutting-edge science with thrills and spills, this is classic Crichton' Daily Mirror