This book is not what I will remember the late Michael Crichton by. He was an excellent writer, excelling in popularized science techno-thrillers but also fully capable of producing period dramas of high quality, such as The Great Train Robbery. Having read that gem recently, I can attest that Pirate Latitudes was either not written by Michael Crichton or was only a rough script - and was then polished and hastily packaged as a novel.
True, Michael Crichton's main focus had always been the story, often at the expense of his characters. However, the characters here are so crudely and halfheartedly developed that I could not find myself caring for any of them, including Cpt. Hunter, the main hero. The story goes from one cliffhanger to the next (in a James Rollins fashion) and it will keep you turning pages. Nevertheless, it is writing-an-action-novel-by-numbers: the story never managed to get a hold on me.
Where is Crichton's signature obsessive research that used to turn long-held misconceptions on their head? Where is his attention to obscure details and little-known scientific facts with big impact? Where is his ability to entertain and educate at the same time?
After the sad cases of Frank Herbert and Robert Ludlum, Crichton's heirs are attempting to exploit his fans as well. He did not deserve this.
Let this act of piracy hang from the yardarm.