Pirate Latitudes

( 1128 )

Overview

From one of the best-loved authors of all time comes an irresistible adventure of swashbuckling pirates in the New World, a classic story of treasure and betrayal.

The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses.

In this steamy climate there's a living to be made, a ...

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Pirate Latitudes: A Novel

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Overview

From one of the best-loved authors of all time comes an irresistible adventure of swashbuckling pirates in the New World, a classic story of treasure and betrayal.

The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses.

In this steamy climate there's a living to be made, a living that can end swiftly by disease—or by dagger. For Captain Charles Hunter, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking, and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it.

Word in port is that the galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in a nearby harbor. Heavily fortified, the impregnable harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of the Spanish king himself. With backing from a powerful ally, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the enemy outpost and commandeer El Trinidad, along with its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of island legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he even sets foot on foreign shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure. . . .

Pirate Latitudes is Michael Crichton at his best: a rollicking adventure tale pulsing with relentless action, crackling atmosphere, and heart-pounding suspense.

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Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
This hilariously exciting book already reads like a film treatment, jumping from one cinematic, doom-filled episode to the next as it cuts its bloody way through the encyclopedia of piracy from "Ahoy" to "Yo-ho-ho"…As in any Crichton novel, all of this breakneck adventure is decorated with little bits of historical and technical instruction that float down like parrot feathers here and there…Crichton always had a perfect sense of how much (or how little) background most readers really wanted. He may stop a moment to explain the jury system required by Parliament in 1612 or the predictive nature of waves, but then he's quick to shout, "Hoist anchor! Lively with the lines!" and we're off again. If you're on the lookout for some light adventure…thar she blows!
—The Washington Post
Cameron Martin
Crichton's last novel, found in his files as a complete manuscript after his death in 2008, is unabashed fun.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In Crichton’s posthumously published novel, Capt. Charles Hunter leads a lovable gang of pirates in a raid on a Spanish ship loaded with gold off the coast of Jamaica. Hunter’s determination must contend with a host of rapacious cannibals, hurricanes, sea monsters, simmering mutiny, and capture by sadistic Spaniards. Crichton draws on every pirate cliché in the book, refreshing and reanimating them with heady atmosphere, crackling dialogue, and an endearing hero—all of which are brought to life by John Bedford Lloyd, who excels at accents and colorful personalities. Lloyd’s deep and controlled voice projects energy and excitement, and steers clear of caricature. A Harper hardcover. (Dec.)
Bob Minzesheimer
“Pirates Latitudes has the loot: Gore, sex, action…. A lusty, rollicking 17th century adventure…. History as entertainment…. Crichton has done his homework.”
Cameron Martin
“Unabashed fun.”
Richard Eisenberg
“Offers unexpected turns and plenty of yo ho ho’s.”
Michael Berry
“It’s not an ironic pirate novel. It’s not a pirate novel with a secret gimmick. It’s simply an entertaining tale filled with crafty privateers, despicable villains, treasure hoards, double crosses and a sea monster. Go figure.”
Benjamin Svetsky
“The plot sucks you in like the giant kraken monster that nearly sinks our hero’s galleon.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594044635
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/24/2009
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 203,648
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton has sold over 200 million books, which have been translated into thirty-eight languages; thirteen of his books have been made into films. Also known as a filmmaker and the creator of ER, he remains the only writer to have had the number one book, movie, and TV show simultaneously. At the time of his death in 2008, Crichton was well into the writing of Micro; Richard Preston was selected to complete the novel.

Richard Preston is the internationally bestselling author of eight books, including The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He lives with his wife and three children near Princeton, New Jersey.

Biography

Michael Crichton's oeuvre is so vivid and varied that it hard to believe everything sprang from the mind of a single writer. There's the dino-movie franchise and merchandising behemoth Jurassic Park; the long-running, top-rated TV series ER, which Crichton created; and sci-fi tales so cinematic a few were filmed more than once. He's even had a dinosaur named after him.

Ironically, for someone who is credited with selling over 150 million books, Crichton initially avoided writing because he didn't think he would make a living at it. So he turned to medical school instead, graduating with an M.D. from Harvard in 1969. The budding doctor had already written one award-winning novel pseudonymically (1968's A Case of Need) to help pay the bills through school; but when The Andromeda Strain came out in the same year of his med school graduation, Crichton's new career path became obvious.

The Andromeda Strain brilliantly and convincingly sets out an American scientific crisis in the form of a deadly epidemic. Its tone -- both critical of and sympathetic toward the scientific community -- set a precedent for Crichton works to come. A 1970 nonfiction work, Five Patients offers the same tone in a very different form, that being an inside look at a hospital.

Crichton's works were inspired by a remarkably curious mind. His plots often explored scientific issues -- but not always. Some of his most compelling thrillers were set against the backdrop of global trade relations (Rising Sun), corporate treachery (Disclosure) and good old-fashioned Victorian-era theft (The Great Train Robbery). The author never shied away from challenging topics, but it's obvious from his phenomenal sales that he never waxed pedantic. Writing about Prey, Crichton's cautionary tale of nanotech gone awry, The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another."

On the page, Crichton's storytelling was eerily nonfictional in style. His journalistic, almost professorial, and usually third-person narration lent an air of credibility to his often disturbing tales -- in The Andromeda Strain, he went so far as to provide a fake bibliography. Along the way, he revelled in flouting basic, often subconscious assumptions: Dinosaurs are long-gone; women are workplace victims, not predators; computers are, by and large, predictable machines.

The dazzling diversity of Crichton's interests and talents became ever more evident as the years progressed. In addition to penning bestselling novels, he wrote screenplays and a travel memoir, directed several movies, created Academy Award-winning movie production software, and testified before Congress about the science of global warming -- this last as a result of his controversial 2004 eco-thriller State of Fear, a novel that reflected Crichton's own skepticism about the true nature of climate change. His views on the subject were severely criticized by leading environmentalists.

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton died, following a long battle against cancer. Beloved by millions of readers, his techno-thrillers and science-inflected cautionary tales remain perennial bestsellers and have spawned a literary genre all its own.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our 2005 interview with Crichton:

"I'm very interested in 20th-century American art."

"I have always been interested in movies and television as well as books. I see all these as media for storytelling, and I don't discriminate among them. At some periods of my life I preferred to work on movies, and at others I preferred books."

"In the early 1990s, interviewers began calling me ‘the father of the techno-thriller.' Nobody ever had before. Finally I began asking the interviewers, ‘Why do you call me that?' They said, ‘Because Tom Clancy says you are the father of the techno-thriller.' So I called Tom up and said, ‘Listen, thank you, but I'm not the father of the techno-thriller.' He said, ‘Yes you are.' I said, ‘No, I'm not, before me there were thrillers like Failsafe and Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate that were techno-thrillers.' He said, ‘No, those are all political. You're the father of the techno-thriller.' And there it ended."

"My favorite recreation is to hike in the wilderness. I am fond of Hawaii."

"I used to scuba dive a lot, but haven't lately. For a time I liked to photograph sharks but like anything else, the thrill wears off. Earlier in my life I took serious risks, but I stopped when I became a parent."

"I taught myself to cook by following Indian and Szechuan recipes. They each have about 20 ingredients. I used to grind my own spices, I was really into it. Now I don't have much time to cook anymore. When I do, I cook Italian food."

"I read almost exclusively nonfiction. Most times I am researching some topic, which may or may not lead to a book. So my reading is pretty focused, although the focus can shift quickly."

"I have always been interested in whatever is missing or excluded from conventional thought. As a result I am drawn to writers who are out of fashion, bypassed, irritating, difficult, or excessive. I also like the disreputable works of famous writers. Thus I end up reading and liking Paul Feyerabend (Against Method), G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy, What's Wrong with the World), John Stuart Mill, Hemingway (Garden of Eden), Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Alain Finkielkraut (Defeat of the Mind), Anton Ehrenzweig (Hidden Order of Art), Arthur Koestler (Midwife Toad, Beyond Reductionism), Ian McHarg (Design with Nature), Marguerite Duras, Jung, late James M. Cain (Serenade), Paul Campos.

"Because I get up so early to work, I tend to go to bed early, around 10 or 11. So I don't go out much. I suppose I am borderline reclusive. I don't care."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

Interviews & Essays

A Special Tribute from Lynn Nesbit
For over 40 years Michael Crichton was not only my client but also a wonderful friend whose wry wit and laser intelligence made him incomparable. We met when I was a very, very young agent and he was a student at Harvard Medical School -- and had just written his first John Lange thriller. An older male friend decided he would take Michael in hand and introduce him to the most powerful agents in New York -- of whom I was not one -- and was trotting him around to all the agencies. I got to meet him only because I worked at an agency with an important television agent, and I could see that this older gentleman was not at all happy to have him meet this young woman. But Michael came back again and we had a long conversation, and he said, "Let's grow up in the business together." Which we did. And we had a long run.

We are lucky to have, in addition to the incredible backlist of the groundbreaking books -- The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Disclosure, to name just a few -- this incredible rollicking romp, Pirate Latitudes, to remember him by.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 1128 )
Rating Distribution

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(301)

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(87)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1137 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A little gem of a read!

    I have always been a big fan of Michael Crichton, and was sad to learn of his passing. I have read all of his books and have always found them to be page turners. His writing skills are probably not given the credit they are due because of the commercial fiction genres he worked. This pirate book set in 1665 Caribbean is probably not what most of his fans are used to reading from this author (though Crichton was no stranger to historical fiction, I still consider "The Great Train Robbery" his best Novel). The reader I taken to the far removed Port Royal, a lone British colony holding out against the mighty Spanish empire. The town is home to some unlikely and unsavory characters, a place of sin and vice, and a good place to call home if you are looking to steal some Spanish gold, the Brits don't mind Pirates as long as they are hunting Spanish Gold! There is danger and death a plenty but there is also a chance for a man to get rich if has the audacity and ruthlessness to back up his play. Captain Charles Hunter is just such a man and there a Spanish Galleon hiding in a nearby harbor while undergoing repairs. But the harbor is under heavy guard led by the ruthless Cazell hand picked by the King of Spain himself. Hunter gathers a ragtag crew of cutthroats to go after the Spanish galleon, supposedly os Spanish gold. This is a raucous and fun read that can see going to the big screen soon! I just hope there are a few more gems like this that Mr. Crichton has hidden away.... For more great thrills in the modern day Caribbean, check out "Tourist In the Yucatan"

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Disappointing

    I think I have read all of Michael Crichton's books and enjoyed them greatly. This was a manuscript published after his death. In my opinion, it should have been left unpublished. I kept waiting for the plot to intrigue me but it never did. It had action but nothing like I expected from Crichton. I think this was a chance to make money off a manuscript he knew wasn't great and chose not to publish.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An enjoyable read!!

    Although this probably won't be as highly regarded as his previous works, this novel is still an AWESOME read. The only problem that I had with this book is that it seemed like it wasn't finished yet, but nonetheless it still kept me on the edge of my seat. Captain Charles Hunter is the new Jack Sparrow.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    No wonder it was hidden on Crichton's computer

    I was excited for the book's release when I heard of its topic and was utterly disappointed. Characterization was flat, narrative more telling than showing, and the plot was preposterous. Every cliche pirate event (hurricane, sea monster, etc.) trotted out for tale. This had to be a first draft. I'm sad that someone chose to release the after his death because I don't think he ever would have let it see the light in its released form.

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    Really?!?

    Shame on Michael Crichton's heirs and shame on the publishers for foisting this on his fans for a quick buck. There's a reason he never showed this rough outline of a manuscript to anyone...wherever he is he must be horrified it's seen the light of day with his name on it.

    I'm a Michael Crichton fan (the man wrote some great and original books) and a lover of pirate stories, true and fictional. Neither of those facts could overcome the obvious flaws in this book. A bunch of overdone caricatures are conveniently plopped together with little to no character development and follow a ridiculously predictable (and I'm sorry to say, poorly written) plot-line. Well, I didn't see the fantastic glowing green giant squid coming...oh wait, I did because he basically tells you it's coming earlier in the book. How out of place is this in a story written like a true historical adventure? Plus he already used that one in 'Sphere' so it isn't even original to Michael Crichton.

    It's sad to think of all the great books out there to be read while this travesty takes up valuable shelf and warehouse space. Apparently the Crichton estate wasn't satisfied with the large profits from Jurassic Park and ER. Why not bilk loyal fans for a little more?

    9 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2010

    The Worst Pirate Book Ever Written

    I thought when I heard Michael Crichton was writing a pirate book, it would be pretty amazing or a least a good read. This book however has been a complete waste of time. It is really not even about pirates. It is about Privateers, which to certain governments they were pirates, but in this book they are just Privateers. The style of the book was rushed and spent too much on things that were not important verus the things that were. However, what I was most disappointed with was the face that everything on the flap of the book was done in the first 100 pages. Even the great villian that everyone was so afraid of was not even scary. I found myself reading just to see if it would get any better. It never did. The only good thing I can say is it had short chapters that moved. If you love fictional pirate books, please stay away from this one. This one read more like nonfiction book about privateers.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    I bet you can guess what happens

    This book was a disappointment. When I read that the manuscript had been discovered after Crichton's death, I wondered if he was so insufficiently satisfied with it that he hadn't offfered it for publication upon finishing it.

    It's a pirate tale, formulaic, cliched and very predictable. All the usual plot points are there - damsel taken captive, swashbuckling, scurvious crew, monstrous sea creature, hurricane, treasure. There was no parrot perched on anyone's shoulder, but that's about the only cliche he missed.

    This is a poor swan song to such a prolific and quality career.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun!

    Not a deep or deeply original read, but a very fun one nevertheless...

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Easy listening

    Very well narrated, really enjoyed this book and it helped shrink the miles on a daily commute (100 mile R/T.) You have to have an interest in the sea, and the time period that this story takes place in.

    I can't wait to see the movie I heard Speilberg is making the film?

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2009

    Worth a read...

    As others have noted, Pirate Latitudes is not Crichton's finest work. On the other hand, it's certainly not his worst. It shares similar qualities with most of his novels in that it combines arcane knowledge (history in this case; science in many others) with a fictional plot. Also, like every book of his, it's a page-turner.

    Having said that, there are some caveats. I had a sense that there is a certain lack of polish to it. It is somewhat shorter than a typical MC book, and there was an episodic quality to it that seems out of character. In addition, there were a couple of otherworldly plotlines that were dropped suddenly without further explanation. In other MC novels, these intriguing lead-ins would have been followed by elaborate, protracted plot development, eventually leading to satisfying (if not necessarily realistic) conclusions. Such was not the case here.

    I cannot help but speculate as to the condition of this novel in Crichton's mind. The story, as I understand it, is that it was discovered on his personal computer after his passing, and required "very little editing."

    This begs several questions in my mind. First and foremost: when was it written? There are many aspects of the novel which were quite similar to plot devices in the recent "Pirates" films. It was, in general, unlike Crichton to simply parrot well-known popular culture. Had Pirate Latitudes been released, say, 10 years ago, it would have been much more in keeping with his character. Was it, therefore, nearly complete when the recent pirates popularity sprung anew, and he shelved it (at least temporarily) as a result?

    The second question I have follows from the first: Necessary editing notwithstanding, how "mature" was the novel in the author's mind? I suspect that, had he lived and decided to publish Pirate Latitudes, he could have quite easily expanded it by 100 pages without stressing the basic plot framework.

    Unfortunately, we'll never know the answers to these questions. In the end, if you are a Crichton, or history/pirate, fan, Pirate Latitudes is well worth a read, but don't expect a masterpiece.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Should not have been published

    I know Crichton fans were happy to have one last book to read after the author's passing, but this book should have stayed in the desk drawer. You can tell this was either a rough draft or one of Crichton's early works, before he refined his skills. The plot is simply one cheap pirate cliche after another, and the characters are hollow characitures of what pirates should be. I would not recommend this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Recommend

    Fun book! Not the typical Crichton book but a blast to read just the same!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    CD/Unabridged/Historical Fiction: Wow, this was a great book.

    CD/Unabridged/Historical Fiction: Wow, this was a great book. If you're expecting a medical or science fiction novel, you're not going to get it. If you want a book with pirates, heroes, strong narrative, character development, humor, tragedy, strong women, betrayal, and greed, this is the book for you. When I finished the book, I was on Wikipedia trying to see if Charles Hunter was based on a real person. He is not.
    This novel starts in Port Royal in the West Indies during the mid 1600s. (Think: Pirates of the Caribbean). The British Governor of the Port forbids and will hang any pirate, but all "privateers" are welcome if the Crown benefits. Charles Hunter enthusiastically seeks a Spanish treasure. With the blessing of the governor, he and his motley crew of privateers are off to steal the treasure. Hunter is our hero, so you know he'll make it to the end, but his journey is so interesting.
    The cast of supporting characters are wonderful. There are four female characters, two are ladies, one is a maid, and one a privateer who dresses as a man. All the women are either strong or get strong by the end. There are no doormats in this bunch.
    The narrator, John Bedford Lloyd, does a great job. He is not dull and has great inflection in his voice. He pauses in between scenes, which I appreciate.
    Here is the part I don't understand. This book was published posthumously. It was one of two books found on his computer after his death in 2008. Unlike Micro, this one was complete. The assistant who found it said it looked like it had been started in the seventies. Here is my theory. The book Timeline was about going back in time to France. I think the West Indies was one of his choices for the plot and he did a lot of research. He then chose France for Timeline. With the West Indies in his head, he thought out Pirate Latitudes. It is detailed like a Crichton book, but not like any Crichton book. I definitely recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2010

    Great. You need to check it out

    You need to check this book out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    Different Crichton

    This was a little different than I expected, but I still had a hard time putting it down. The characters and the story seemed realistic, more of the roughness of pirating rather than the fairy tale pirates that we have seen in movies and TV. Writing style was different than what I had expected from other Crichton books (i.e. Jurassic Park), but still an exciting read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Unusual but good

    The topic is unusual for a Michael Crichton novel, this being a historical novel. However, his writing skills shine in it. It is entertaining like all of his works and makes a good read. This novel makes one think that perhaps Crichton could have in the long run have written novels in many genres, the same way another physician writer did about forty years ago, Frank Slaughter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not your typical Crichton novel

    What can I say? It was strange. I've read every other book by Chrichton and this just wasn't up to par. I know it was a manuscript found after he died and then published. I have to assume that he wanted to edit it more before that happened. It was like a more adult Treasure Island. Not much to it really. It was a very quick read and the characters were only mildly developed. Actually as I was reading it I was picturing Captain Jack Sparrow since it seemed very movie cheesy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    Routine pirate story

    I did like the book overall and it was a fun read. Not much to the plot and it was predictable. Characters were good, description of the location and the atmosphere of the location was descriptive enough, but it was all standard fare from other pirate movies and books. The use of a kraken? Really? I mean Disney may have issues with that. I did like it, but it is not a must read, more of a read if you get a chance.

    Considering it was a found manuscript and not finally edited by the author, this is not the best of Micheal's work. The cover was not interesting, but I am glad it was in large print.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    Love Crichton. I got this as an "in between serious reading book" and was disappointed.

    There is a reason Crichton left this manuscript tucked in his drawers. Its just no good. Maybe a screenplay for a bad movie, but not a good book. Has its fun moments, but not even really enjoyable, certainly not thrilling or original.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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