UNDER THE BLACK FLAG

THE ROMANCE AND THE REALITY OF LIFE AMONG THE PIRATES

Cordingly, a former head of exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, presents a no-frills picture of the early 18th century buccaneer, revealing the basis of our romantic conceptions of pirates. While piracy in that era was not a prescription for longevity, it brought lasting fame to its practitioners, their images are mythically enshrined in the works of Defoe, Robinson, Stevenson, and later in Hollywood epics. The origin of pirate careers was often rather prosaic: Many of the buccaneers of the Caribbean were poor laborers or out-of-work sailors from European navies; most got their start on merchant vessels. They preferred small, quick vessels to the three-masted ships portrayed in films, because smaller vessels could take refuge in narrow inlets or escape over shallow sandbars. Pirates were often a democratic lot; crews voted on their destinations and captains; they even had a primitive brand of medical insurance. While their reputation for cruelty can be documented, Cordingly asserts that often pirates killed only if merchantmen resisted and fought back. Not surprisingly, many ships were taken without a struggle. Cordingly also describes some of the fierce women buccaneers; the debauched and free-spending life at the great pirate ports, such as Port Royal, Jamaica; and the truly daring exploits of Frances Drake, Henry Morgan, Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and other luminaries. There's much interesting arcana, ranging from the design of pirate flags (the Jolly Roger was just one design among many) to the pets kept aboard ship (parrots and monkeys were popular). The golden age of piracy ended in the 1720s, when the European navies, for once not occupied in fighting each other, turned their attention to eliminating the sea marauders. Readers who do not mind a somewhat plodding pace will find a great deal that is surprising about the lives of these legendary men (and women). (16 pages b&w photos and maps, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42560-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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