In his playful first novel, playwright Pielmeier (best known for Agnes of God, 1979) allows Peter Pan’s Captain Hook a chance to tell the story from his point of view.
It’s not that of J.M. Barrie, that “sad little Scotsman,” as Hook (nee James Cook) refers to him. This James is something of a lost boy himself, sent away to be bullied at Eton, orphaned early, and shanghaied onto a British ship that gets lost in a temporal loop somewhere in midocean. There he meets the rotund Smee and the other future pirates he'll command after a trip to England sends him spinning into the future. But not before he finds his way, accompanied by his beloved pet crocodile, Daisy, into the real “Never-Isle,” which is populated by mermaids with “whiskers. Of the walrus variety” as well as an erratic Peter Pan, whose memory stretches back only as far as yesterday and whose “Darker Nature” makes him inclined to sprinkle unsuspecting comrades with fake fairy dust for the pleasure of watching them fall off cliffs. Hook’s long months at sea grow tedious for the reader, but Pielmeier’s revisionist version of the Enchanted Isles is vividly sensuous, and the novel offers the particular pleasure of explaining the key points of the original in new ways. Cameo appearances by Sherlock Holmes and possibly the real Jack the Ripper, as well as various characters from Treasure Island, the world of which oddly intersects with that of Hook and his comrades, add texture to the tale. While the author’s meditations on the costs and benefits of mortality don’t break any new ground and some of his references are obscure enough that only Victorian scholars will catch them, anyone who would like another trip to Barrie’s enchanted world should be pleased with the opportunity the novel offers to see it anew.
The author's thorough, affectionate knowledge of both the original book and the historical period grounds this fantasy in rich detail.