Buried pirate treasure is the come-on for this tongue-in-cheek yarn about a feisty Virginian and the scurvy knaves ranged against him.
The 17th-century Irish buccaneer Finster Doyle buried his loot beneath an island off the Virginia peninsula before the law caught up with him. Doyles have been living on Pirate Island ever since. (Pirates figured more prominently in The Pirate’s Daughter, 1997, Girardi’s second novel, than they do here, his fourth.) The last of the Doyles is 42-year-old Tim, raised by his beloved uncle Buck after his father died at sea. Tim later married the delectable Flor and lived with her in her native Spain until she threw him out after one affair too many. Now, the self-destructive Tim is back, devastated by Buck’s recent death, drinking himself into oblivion and confronting an anonymous death threat if he doesn’t leave again pronto. Tim’s not going anywhere; he loves the place, especially the pirate-themed miniature golf course Buck created, even though the mainland has gone horribly upscale in his long absence. Could developer and former drug dealer Roach Pompton be behind that death threat? And why is his shady lawyer Slough pressuring him to accept an anonymous offer for the island? The threats don’t stop. After attempted arson, two Irish hit men show up; swashbuckling Tim dispatches one of them with an antique Colt. Sandwiched between these developments are colorful episodes involving Doyle’s ancestors, including Finster’s own larger-than-life story. Unfortunately, they slow the momentum of Tim’s drama, while sharing an over-the-top quality. Eventually, it becomes clear the pirate treasure is a red herring: Tim is up against a corporate conspiracy masterminded by a flamboyant Irish queen who is also a ruthless businessman. Our guy is kidnapped, but still manages to have bathtub sex with the businessman’s daughter before (finally) a let-’er-rip straightaway leading to two showdowns and some impressive firepower.
It’s all good, not-so-clean fun, though the suspense suffers from those self-indulgent interpolations.