You know Michael Crichton for Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Sphere, and Prey, but he also took a stab at a pirate adventure. In 2009, a year after Crichton’s death, Pirate Latitudes was published.
Set in the mid 1600’s, the story begins with the governor of Jamaica hiring Captain Charles Hunter to locate and pirate a Spanish galleon of it’s rumored treasure. The galleon is supposedly in wait for a Spanish fleet to escort it safely back to Spain, until then it is prime for looting, if not a very dangerous task. Shortly after accruing men for the expedition and setting sail, Captain Hunter and his ship are captured by a Spanish warship. They learn their journey will be even harder than expected.
Filled with sword fights, exotic and memorable scenery and locations, betrayal and friendship, Crichton succeeds in creating a fun, page-turning pirate adventure. I found the characters to be entertaining, especially Hunter and Bassa, a mute shipmate. Crichton packs the relatively short novel with interesting facts and history, along with an inner cover map of the areas traveled in the book, because no pirate expedition is complete without a map!
A particular success was Crichton’s treatment of time at sea. While the crew sails from one area to another it is a perfect trap to fall into a boring tone, monotonous and forgetful, however, the author livens up these parts with brevity and action.
For any fan of Treasure Island, for anyone who does not mind the absence of Johnny Depp in their pirate stories, this is a fantastic adventure that had me wearing my eye-patch and waving a sword…more than usual.