I just finished reading Pirate Latitudes, by the late Michael Crichton. When I saw the book on the hardcover discount table, I hesitated, having never before read a book about pirates. I took the $2.00 (that was the price!) plunge, because Michael Crichton may well be my favorite author. I believe I have read everything (or almost everything) he had ever written. Hell, I would happily read a shopping list if Michael Crichton wrote it.
I was quite taken by the story, which was set in 1665 and dealt with the adventures of Charles Hunter, the Harvard-educated Englishman
pirate privateer, who assembles a crew of ill-mannered, cutthroats and rogues in order to attack a seemingly impregnable Spanish Fortress under the command of a Spanish villain named Cazalla, (who is a supremely rotten, sadistic, loathsome, ruthless turd). The ultimate goal of Hunter’s cunning plan is the seizure of a treasure-laden Spanish galleon moored near the fortress. When Hunter is not relieving women of their knickers, he is shooting people in the face with his flintlock pistol (including a disobedient crew member), and he’s the good guy.
It is a great adventure story, but as one would expect from Michael Crichton, it is chock full of interesting historical tidbits and a good deal of information concerning the amazing navigation and sailing skills of
pirates privateers in the seventeenth century. It has sparked my interest in the subject, and I shall delve into Joan’s archives for additional reading material, for she is way ahead of most folks in the Pirate Department.
Reportedly the book was discovered as a “final” manuscript on Michael Crichton’s computer after his death in 2008. I have a feeling that, had he not died, he would have tweaked the book a bit to add a bit more meat so some elements of the story that seemed to pop up and quickly disappear, without additional development.
It’s a fun read, and it served to remind me that Michael Crichton died way too young.