Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Pirate Latitudes Pirate Latitudes
by Michael Crichton
Harper Collins

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Pirate Latitudes is Michael Crichton’s latest, and presumably last, book – the manuscript was discovered in his papers after his death in 2008.

Pirate Latitudes is a swashbuckling yarn of the privateer Charles Hunter of Port Royal, Jamaica and his attempts to land that one big prize: a Spanish West Indies treasure ship.

The novel suffers a few defects, as Mr Crichton was apparently not yet ready to put it forward for publication (being as it was in his papers), but it holds together well. The story moves along at a decent clip, with the illustrious hero having to navigate hazards of nautical and non-nautical nature (capture by the Spanish, a hurricane, cannibals, sea monsters and more) often having to rely on those he didn’t with good reason trust. The characters are well drawn and believable, even if at times they behaved like modern day persons planted in the seventeenth century.

The defects were few and explained why the Pirate Latitudes was still waiting to be submitted for publication at the time of Mr Crichton’s death. There were a couple of episodes (the story is told in six parts) that felt under developed here or there as a possible storyline. This was a work in progress, something the author considered unfinished. The reviewer wonders how much better Pirate Latitudes would have been if it had been a finished work.

Patchy as it is even an unfinished, unrevised novel by Michael Crichton is worth reading. However, such was Michael Crichton’s skill and expertise as an author that even the defects are seen only in retrospect.

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