Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton – A Book Review



An irresistible tale of swashbuckling pirates in the New World from master storyteller Michael Crichton – now in paperback

Jamaica, in 1665 a lone outpost of British power amid Spanish waters in the sunbaked Caribbean. Its capital, Port Royal, a cuthroat town of taverns, grog shops and bawdy houses – the last place imaginable from which to launch an unthinkable attack on a nearby Spanish stronghold. Yet that is exactly what renowned privateer Captain Charles Hunter plans to do, with the connivance of Charles II’s ruling governor, Sir James Almont.

The target is Matanceros, guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, and considered impregnable with its gun emplacements and sheer cliffs. Hunter’s crew of buccaneers must battle not only the Spanish fleet but other deadly perils – raging hurricanes, cannibal tribes, even sea monsters. But if his ragtag crew succeeds, they will make not only history … but a fortune in gold.
Author: Michael Crichton
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Release Date: 01/04/2010
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘Pirate Latitudes’: 2 out of 5
Purchase: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Audible UK, Audible US


I had high hopes for enjoying this as I love historical fiction, even more so when it features pirates. Sadly, although it was a good, and even exciting, story. It was not a good book.

That sounds a tad contradictory. What I mean is, it’s the sort of action-packed story that would be the perfect tale of adventure to tell by the fireside, or that could be made into an exciting film/tv series. But, as a book, it’s too predictable and just falls a little flat because of it.

My main gripe with Pirate Latitudes is that the characters never feel like they’re in any danger. Horrendously bad things do happen, but to characters you didn’t know or care about. So it feels too distant to ever really hit home.

Regarding the characters; they almost feel super-human at points. It got to the point where, if James Hunter was forced to headbutt his way through a meter-thick brick wall, he’d have done so. And he’d have come through the other side without a headache or a hair out of place. Impossible just wasn’t a concept that existed in the world of Pirate Latitudes.

And how he gets everyone to just go along with what he says is laughable. Nobody ever really gives a valid reason for joining up. All voice their concerns that what is being proposed is impossible and should, under no circumstance be attempted. But, all Hunter needs to do is say ‘go on, you know you want to.’ And they go.

I actually got to within 40 pages of the end and stopped reading for a week or two. The author wanted me to believe all was lost, but I couldn’t suspend my disbelief quite that far and the prospect of our perfect characters failing never felt real enough to keep me interested.

But, I did come back to it and soldiered on to the ending, which is another sore point for me. It felt rushed. Painfully so. The continuity just wasn’t there either. One sentence stated that a person was out of range from all angles for a pistol shot. The next sentence has said target getting shot by a pistol … I suppose when logic was thrown out of the window early on, the laws of physics were next for the chopping board.

I really enjoyed the epilogue, though. It made the entire book feel like it could have been real and that the characters within were flesh and blood rather than ink on a page. I actually felt the epilogue went some small way towards redeeming the pages that preceded it.

20 thoughts on “Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton – A Book Review

  1. Aw man, this doesn’t sound like it was meant to be published. More like a draft of something when struck by random inspiration. Have you read every other Crichton book or just picking up the ones that you get your hands on here and then? Great honest review, Aaron.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Other than this one I’ve read Jurassic Park, The Lost World and Prey.

      His assistant pulled this off his hard drive after he’d passed away. I van only assume he’d not finished playing with it, or it was just a ‘fun project’.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt much the same when I read it. It had a lot of promise that didn’t deliver. And the rape at the end also just threw me out. I really felt it was unfinished and they should have just left it alone, or perhaps waited a while to use it for academic purposes for lit majors studying him but not for mass publication.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea … it had so many elements that felt like they were either rushed (how quickly and without arguement he encouraged people to follow him on a suicide mission). The sudden and totally pointless appearance of a Kraken. The rape just seemed forced and even the characters involved seemed to find the fact that it was happening to be an odd inclusion to the story.

      It made me feel like it cheapenned his legacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought that the book was fantastic until the style changed. When the Kraken had “superhuman” strength I began to think someone else finished the novel. From that word on it wasn’t the quality I expected of M. C.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was supposedly found after his death, so I’m guessing he didn’t get to doing his usual editing process on it. Totally agree that the style changed nearer the end. Was a bit of a shift in style and really lessened the enjoyment


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