Review: “Pirate Latitudes”~ Michael Crichton
The very story of how this book came to be was exciting enough to intrigue me- Michael Crichton’s assistant found a finished draft of it on his hard drive after his death, and sent it for publication. Steven Spielberg has already signed on for the film rights. And rightly so.
TxtingMrDarcy Notes Version: Captain Charles Hunter is a Privateer in the Jamaica colony in 1665. He is hot. And a Badass. And don’t dare call him a “pirate” or he’ll kick your grog-lovin’ arse.
He receives word that a Spanish galleon loaded with treasure is docked in the harbor of a nearby Spanish fort. The only problem is that the fort is rumored to be impenetrable and the Spanish commander is singularly bloodthirsty. Not even kidding, he apparently found “the screams of his dying victims restful and relaxing,” and killed Hunter’s brother by cutting off his testicles and feeding them to him. Not my idea of McNuggets, but ANYWAY.
“Pirate Latitudes,” is a mixture of “Pirates of the Carribbean,” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” Hunter travels around Port Royal, assembling a team of men (and woman) that he knows can breach the impenetrable fortress and allow him to make off with the treasure. Don Diego specializes in explosives, Enders is a barber surgeon AND sea artist (translation: really good sailor. Or something), and Lazue has ridiculously keen vision which makes her a great markswoman AND dresses as a man. What I learned: Unexpected boobies are very handy during a battle. They’re rounded off by Bassa, who is the muscle, and Sanson, a deadly assassin.
Until the plot unfolds, you’re unsure exactly how each character is going to play into the caper, but it’s a pleasure waiting for the pieces to fit together. Anyone who has read Crichton in the past will notice that it’s lacking some of his usual detail, but that isn’t missed. I personally found it hard to get through some of his earlier novels due to the sheer volume of scientific speak (“Jurassic Park” and the “Andromeda Strain”) and description included. Pirate Latitudes has a clean, fast-moving plot with plenty of fun and detail without being overwhelming. You find yourself immersed in the emerging society of the Carribbean, including sights, smells and superstitions.
Of course there is the stereotypical damsel character, present in Lady Sarah Almont, who plays her role of “I am a delicate flower. I have burns on my boobs. I might be a witch. I hate you. I love you. Let’s make out,” well.
In case you weren’t convinced that this is actually a pirate novel, there is a sea monster and a lot of talk about cannons. If I were a perv I could hypothesize that Michael Crichton was awfully fixated on cannon size and possibly compensating… But no. I wouldn’t dream of doing that.
Verdict: A great read, especially after the recent blizzard. It was welcome to escape from 3 feet of snow to jungle climes where the air is “like breathing cloth.” Minus the coral snakes, of course. This book is perfect to read in a day (if you’ve got the time), or break up over a number of sittings. You’re quickly sucked back into the story and the pages speed by. In the case of this Crichton novel, less is more. Definitely recommend it!