Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Fiction
At thirteen, John Mallory witnesses the unthinkable – his father murdered, his mother kidnapped by pirates – but when the Royal Navy encounters some of the pirates, he’s taken into custody and imprisoned in Newgate prison for seven long years. He survives those horrors with the help of Smitty, a real pirate, and a vow to someday kill Captain James Logan and rescue his mother from the villain’s clutches. Upon his release, John (now called Jack) winds up in a tavern on Tortuga, but finding Logan proves tougher than he expects, for the pirate is elusive and disappears for months at a time.
Maria Cordero serves the pirates who visit her father’s tavern on Tortuga. When her father can’t pay his gambling debt to Logan, the pirate shoots him. Avenging her father’s death becomes paramount and Maria bides her time until the right moment comes. In the meantime, she nurses one of Logan’s men back to health. Stephen risked his life to save hers and he loves her, but Maria sees him only as a friend.
Jack eventually comes searching for Maria, in hopes that she can provide the final piece of information he needs to track down Logan. Against his better judgment, Maria joins his crew, which consists of Smitty and Stephen, and they sail to Port Royal to sign on more men. But these new recruits, who seem more piratical than honest seamen, aren’t told where Jack intends to sail. Then there’s Stephen to contend with, as jealousy rears its head as the attraction between Jack and Maria grows.
Will the new recruits remain loyal to Jack when they discover the truth, or will they join with Logan to defeat Jack and his friends? Once he locates the fiendish pirate, will he still find his mother alive? Will he and Maria finally get the revenge they crave? Will love triumph or will experiences of the past forever drive a wedge between Jack and Maria?
Although a specific date isn’t provided, the story is set during the days of the Buccaneers, but after Henry Morgan dies. Keogh deftly spins a realistic tale where pirates are anything but romantic, but each is three dimensional with good and bad traits that also make them human. Had she not included Smitty, readers might find it a stretch to believe that Jack, who has little experience in sailing, can captain a ship, but with his help and Jack’s thirst for knowledge, his growth from landlubber to master rings true and presents a variety of challenges that force him to become a leader of men. Keogh’s research is evident, even down to the cloth ribbon around Smitty’s neck that holds his brace of pistols. Logan comes across with the same legendary aura that surrounded Blackbeard, both as a pirate and a “reformed” pirate. With intricate twists, Keogh never allows the reader to figure out what will happen in the end, which makes The Prodigal a gem that is sure to satisfy all pirate aficionados.
Read an interview with Susan Keogh
(begins on page 10)
Visit the Jack Mallory Chronicles
Review Copyrighted ©2012 Cindy Vallar
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