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Pirate Latitudes - Michael Crichton

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Michael Crichton / Hardcover / 320 Pages / Book is published 2009-11-16 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

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    4 Reviews
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      27.09.2012 13:00
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      Not a good way to go out

      Pirate latitudes is a book by Michael Crichton published posthumously after his untimely death, Crichton is best known for Jurassic Park and Congo but was a truly outstanding author who stretched real science as far as possible to engineer brilliant stories around. Sadly this last novel is one of his worst and this reader did wonder if it was one that Crichton himself would have hugely altered or even published at all.

      The book is set in the middle of the 17th century and is a book about pirates in and around the Caribbean, (Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone?), anyway in this novel we have a privateering raid by a Captain Hunter to try and snatch a gold laden Spanish galleon. The story begins in the real settlement of Port Royal and is cracks along at a rapid pace, this book has everything a decent nautical romp should have plenty of sea-battles, attacking Spanish Islands, captured English heiresses, hurricanes, political intrigue and even an attack by a giant squid. A lot happens but nothing really sticks, the characters are as wooden as the ship and the linking of the events so tenuous that this reader almost stopped halfway through. After extensive sea battles, fights with Spaniards and desperate riding out of a hurricane of course the final act is of treachery all the way back at home. Captain Hunter then goes all Death wish and takes his revenge on those traitorous dogs.

      Michael Crichton is in my list of best late 20th century writers; he managed to engage the reader in the weird world of pseudo-science better than anyone else. He had believable characters that interacted with the world in credible ways, so when encountering a genetically engineered dinosaur Professor Grant just confirms that birds are derived from them, brilliant. However, this is one of his worse novels; Crichton touches brilliance in some of his early works such as Jurassic Park or the Andromeda strain but also fails occasionally such as Timeline. This is a failure and such a huge travesty of a novel that this reader wished that the book had never been released, a one-dimensional book too similar to a huge series of Hollywood films which just feels like a helter-skelter of scenes not letting the story develop. At the end of the book I had no more insight into any of the characters backgrounds, their beliefs or even their reasons for the actions, there is a lot of random killing and the author does seem to desire to shock the reader with the wanton cruelty.

      I do wonder if this novel is a bit of a draft version of a novel which Crichton was going to change as he wrote it or was almost finished and other hands speeded up the narration of the tale for a swift publication, who can tell? Rather like Eyes Wide Shut is a travesty as Kubricks last film this book is a dreadful end novel to a brilliant writer's career. If you enjoy ripping yarns, stories about pirates or simply a book with a series of high speed action encounters then you'll enjoy it, if you want more then this isn't for you.

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        21.08.2012 21:42
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        A swashbuckling tale of bravery and brutality to sea with the Privateers.

        Michael Crichton is an extremely successful writer who has dabbled deeply in the industries of television, film and book, and who has (over the years) built up a wide collection of reputable works. With such titles as State of Fear and the renowned Jurassic park on the list of novels he has produced, Crichton is perhaps one of the most widely recognised novelists of recent times. The fact he's managed to flog over 150 million books helps to explain the level of recognition and success he has enjoyed over the years. My favourite fact about the man is the record he holds: the only writer to have a number one film, TV series and novel all at the same time! This is another testament to his skill and expertise in the area, and I think that fact goes a long way to explaining why this novel is so enthralling.

        Pirate Latitudes has a sad beginning. After the death of Crichton in 2008 the manuscripts for the novel were discovered in his study and relatively quickly put together into a completed novel for the benefit of those family members, fans and admirers still seeking more. The novel however is not sad, it's quick-paced, fun, adventurous and exciting, and it begins with a man called Sir James Almont, in Port Royal, Jamaica, 1665.

        Sir James, grumpy and with gout of the foot, is the ruler of the now British ruled port (after its capture in 1655). Crichton puts Sir James across as a man of logic, but one who is bored and disgruntled by the formalities of colonial ritual - such as the formal hanging of 'pirates' who threaten the well-being of the people and their possessions. That's not to say Sir James doesn't feel strongly about the punishment of pirate 'traitors', it's just he's more interested in the making of large quantities of money than anything else. And that's where the 'privateers' comes in - freelance operatives in seek of treasure and wealth - these bands of sea-bound men are funded by the government of Port Royal and are therefore not pirates! With the town being the furthest English frontier in a storm of Spanish settlements and armies, there is plenty of the enemy to rob, and this suits His Majesties perspective all the same.

        Captain Charles Hunter is a privateer with a reputation surpassing all in his position. Despite his un-ranked, off the chart occupation as one who simply 'steals', the man is considered with respect and goodwill by the majority - including Sir James, who trusts Hunter more than most. Rather predictably of the era and location, the Governor and Captain come together in talks about the potential capturing of the large galleon, El trinidad, holding valuable gold currently in Mantanceros (Spanish controlled) - an idea which becomes the premise of the story. With sixty men assigned to the challenge (captained by Hunter) shares of the treasure are agreed and important characters are delivered to the reader in depth by Crichton.

        With annoyances to Sir James and Hunter's plan such as the new aid to the governor, Mr Hacklett, the mission to recover the docked galleon seems constantly at odds. Mr hacklett is another great character, his unhappiness with the towns filth and equally mucky behaviour gives him preference to complain - and that he does. His wife on the other hand is bored with his lack of performance (shall we say), and she herself ends up playing an interesting role in the re-reversal of power in the final chapters.
        Perhaps the biggest threat to the privateers voyage comes later on in the story though, when the infamous Cassilas and his Spanish warship threatens to disrupt everything the fighting men and Hunter have been working towards.

        The adventure aboard Hunter's small cramped ship, Cassandra, the struggle, and the antics which accompany make for a fantastic read. I finished the book within three days and found it a real page turner. There are twists and turns (some expected and some not), and the action never ends, with fresh situations near impossible to confront always awaiting the characters. The characters themselves leave strong imprints on your mind and just the right amount of mains are used to help promote the novels rounded feel. Despite its shortness (and extremely short paragraphs), Pirate Latitudes has perhaps the most rounded feel to any novel I've read. It is satisfying to enjoy in a straight-forward kind of way. The big final twist is a marginally expected event which I loved but others may suspect. You shouldn't read this with the intention of gaining an eye-opening semblance, just read it as a fun way to pass the time and I guarantee your enjoyment.

        PAGES: 312
        PARAGRAPHS: 38
        AVAILABLE: Amazong.co.uk (£4.99)
        RATING: 4.6/5

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          18.05.2010 23:16
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          Definitely worth a look if you thriller or pirate books!

          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 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 Spain, in the hope of a reward. Hunter also finds himself set against Captain Cazalla, who protects Matanceros, and without giving too much of the plot away, it's a conflict where there can only be one winner.

          I really enjoyed reading this book, and it really is a loss to literature that Michael Crichton sadly passed away. As with the other books I've read by Crichton, this book showed his superb ability to develop characters and locations in the book, which made them feel much more realistic. There are superb descriptions about Jamaica, and all of this combined made for a very atmospheric book, which it is very easy to engaged with.

          I noted that some reviews regarding this book queried whether this was a book actually written by Michael Crichton, or whether it was just a rough draft that another author had completed. I'm to be honest unable to tell, but I found the book convincing and it did feel in the Crichton style, although the very basis of the book is very different to previous books that he has written, such as Jurassic Park and the Great Train Robbery.

          I read this book fairly much straight through in a couple of days, it was a good page turner, which was easy to dip into and addictive to read. In many parts the characters reminded me of characters from a Clive Cussler adventure thriller, although I did feel that there were maybe too many characters developed in the book, and sometimes these characters didn't get the level of storyline that they might have deserved.

          The paperback book retails at 7.99 pounds, but at the time of writing can be purchased for 3.99 pounds on Amazon, post-free. If you prefer a second hand copy, at the moment you can pick one of these up from sites such as eBay or Amazon for around three pounds including postage. The ISBN is 9780061929373.

          In summary, I found this a good read, an adventure and pirate story which looks likely to be turned into a film. There's lot of adventures, lots of politics, lots of history and a lot of atmosphere, so if you're a fan of pirate books, or thrillers, then this book is definitely worth a look, especially given its cheap post-free price on Amazon.

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            23.01.2010 15:24
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            a nice read which does not take long

            Pirate Lattitudes is written by the great Michael Crichton , who has written such hits as Jurassic park and The Andromeda strain , as well as writing for the award winning tv show, ER.
            This is another review of a book i recieved this christmas , and was quite excited having nether read anything by this author, my first impressions were that its a decent sized story , not a huge cumbersome book , but not a short story.

            ===Appearence===
            I am always excited , be it a cliche , by the cover. Reading Dan brown has lead to me checking out anything with a religious history type story, This book has an exciting outer cover with a mainly red sky and a lightning bolt striking a ship, this is simple but effective and does leave you wondering what will happen. The back of the book has a black and white photo of Michael as well as the publishers logo.
            On the inner sleeve it has a short summary of the story, but i will mention this later, it is on a black background with white, bold writing making it very easy to see. The inner page also shows a beautiful map showing the spanish main in the typical pirate style without being cartoony or childlike.
            The back inner pages have the same map , but the sleeve gives a short background of Micael and his previous works. The book is split into 5 parts and an epilouge , this makes for easy reaading as the book contains 5 situations all linking together to form the story. The font and size is also easy to read.

            ===Story===
            A short rundown of the story,
            Set in Jamaica , 1665 , a lonely outpost of british power among the strong spanish waters. Port royal is cut throat town of taverns and whores - The last place imaginable from which to launch an attack on a spanish stronghold. And yet , that is exactly what privateer Captain Charles Hunter is setting out to do.
            The target is mantanceros , guarded by the bloodthirsty cazzala and know for his bruitality to anyone who crosses him. mantanceros is thought to be impregnable with its huge guns and sheer cliff. Hunters crew of buccaners must battle not only a spanish fleet, but raging hurricanes , cannibal tribes and sea monsters.
            But if he succeeds, not only will he go down in history ,but earn a fortune in gold.
            This is a brilliant story and one that i struggled to put down , getting through 3/4 of it in around 2 days , unfortunatley I then left it at my grandparents and due to the snow only just finished it. The book is so easy to pick up and read , it also can be read without taking your full attention as their isn't a difficult storyline with lots of characters crossing each other. The charcters have lots of personalitys and you feel a connection with certain ones and you do care about happens as the book goes on, The book also has lots of events going on so you don't trawl through the pages waiting for stuff to happen, their is a lot to keep you intrested.

            ===Overall===
            This is a good book from a brilliant writer , anyone who is a fan of adventure books or historical ones will really enjoy this. It can be bought on amazon for around £10 in hardback.

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