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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Cover Art: Pirate Hunter
Pirate Hunter
By Tom Morrisey
Bethany House, 2009, 978-0-7642-0348-0, $13.99


Liberated from a slaver, fifteen-year-old Theodore Bascombe finds himself taken under the wing of Captain Henry Thatch, who plunders enemy merchant ships under the guise of a dubious letter of marque. When they dock in Road Town in the Caribbean, Bold Ted meets Thatch’s stunning wife, but has eyes only for her companion, Sally Emmons, whose father owns the Rose and Crown. Oscar Emmons permits Ted to accompany them to church that Sunday and later, to court his daughter. He’d prefer Ted accept the king’s pardon and retire, which Ted considers. After capturing several more prey, including a ship attacked first by Spaniards, Henry concurs and the decision to head for the Carolinas to take the king’s grace is made. One person rescued from that particular ship turns out to be Bold Ted’s “father,” a Scottish preacher who, according to Ted, sold him into slavery. Henry decides the two must work through their differences, but that wish seems unlikely. Many residents of Road Town, including Henry’s wife and Sally, accompany the pirates to the Carolinas rather than suffer an impending Spanish attack. Soon after Sally and Ted wed, the Spanish captain hunting Thatch captures the vessel carrying the two ladies. In spite of their pardons, the pirates chase after this new enemy, but will they rescue the women in time?

Interspersed with the historical plot is the modern-day story of Greg Rhode, who works as a marine archaeologist for Phil Rackham’s treasure hunting company in Key West, Florida. Their current quarry is a 1623 wreck of a ship laden with untold riches. Greg works with Sheila McIntyre and several other colorful characters as they set about searching for the treasure, which they accidentally uncover while trying to lift a piece of the ship from the dive site. During this endeavor, Greg is presented with a banjo and asked to play. Doing so brings back memories he’d rather not confront – the death of his mother and baby sister after his drunken father crashes the car on the way to the hospital. But Sheila and Phil know old wounds need to be mended and the only way that will happen is if Greg comes to terms with his father. Doing so, though, may cost Sheila her life.

Pirate Hunter is a thoughtful and powerful tale of two men seeking their futures while escaping their pasts. Regardless of the time period, their paths are similar yet different, which makes the interweaving of their tales so compelling and true to life. While there’s a fair amount of technical detail about treasure hunting incorporated into the story, it’s presented in easy-to-understand language without being intrusive. What I particularly find intriguing is that these two tales are actually connected, for the wreck Greg dives on has a connection to Bold Ted, which allows the reader to see what is often lost to history – the personal story behind the shipwreck – while seeing what archaeologists can uncover about history from the artifacts and historical documents that are found. Anyone in search of high seas adventure and the thrill of treasure hunting intertwined with romance and personal foibles will enjoy this novel.

Meet Tom Morrisey

Book Review Copyright ©2009 Cindy Vallar

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