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Pirates sail again in Thomson’s rollicking debut, a tall, fanciful tale that throws us headlong into a world of peg-legged sea dogs and hidden treasure, just minutes from your nearest Sandals resort.

That’s where buttoned-down, 36-year-old accountant Morgan Baker finds himself when long-lost dad Isaac, recently sprung from prison, steals the Vail & Company yacht, intent on retrieving the $40-million worth of gold ingots he stashed on a remote Caribbean island 28 years earlier. Morgan soon learns that he and his delinquent dad are direct descendants of the notorious Cookes, legendary pirates of yore. Unfortunately, Morgan also discovers that his employers, smarmy and suave CEO Avery Vail and his foulmouthed dowager mother Isabel, are direct descendants of their archrivals, the Hoods, who still hold to the pirate credo, “Dead men tell no tales.” Morgan quickly discards Plan A (reforming wayward dad) in favor of Plan B (joining him). The chase for the buried treasure is on, set against a backdrop of remote Caribbean islands seemingly untouched by time—or soap—and populated by the crew of the Jolly Roger. Screenwriter and Web site cartoon animator Thomson doesn’t waste much effort on gritty details or character nuance. Instead, he sends readers into a maelstrom alongside Morgan and Isaac from one pitched battle to the next. The pirates fight in bars, brawl in brothels, escape (improbably) from Old World dungeons and booby-trapped caves, and set off sufficient fireworks to fuel several Jerry Bruckheimer movies. Granted, believability walks the plank in the process. But who’s expecting realism in a story that features an alcoholic parrot, a curvy, tattooed manicurist equally handy with nail file and pirate’s cutlass, and a boatload of eye-patched, grog-swilling characters with names like Squid, Hatch and Fife?

A dizzying plot served up with tankards of disarming deadpan humor, a smattering of actual pirate history and characters just engaging enough to have us swallow it all.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-312-33499-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2005


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