Sometimes it’s fun to read a lark of a book. Laurie R. King’s Pirate King fit the bill after the slog I had with Robert McCammon’s Swan Song. Pirate King is the 11th book in the Holmes and Russell series, but it’s somewhat outside of the main story. The best way I can describe it is to say it’s a side jaunt. This is a fun book. Wildly unbelievable, but fun.
We open with Mary Russell reluctantly agreeing to work for and spy on Fflytte Films, a British Film company that is haunted by flops and criminal activity. Russell takes the case more to avoid her brother-in-law’s visit more than anything else and soon finds herself up to her eyeballs in spoiled actresses, megalomaniacal directors, translators with multiple personalities, and latter day pirates. As one of the few people with common sense in the film company, Russell soon becomes essential.
There’s a lot going on with the Ffytte company, but Russell doesn’t find much evidence of crime until the pirates show up. The main crime here is a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit. Pirated on a brigantine in 1924? Really? But they play their part to the hilt–‘scuze the pun. Once the action starts to roll, Russell finds herself as one of the few people who knows what’s really going on. It’s up to her to save the lives of the oblivious actors and crew from the pirates.
By the end of the book, there are a lot of coincidences that tie up the last wild strands of plots (in both senses of the word). I won’t say any more on that score so that I won’t ruin the ending. But as I said, this book is a jaunt. It’s meant to be wild and fun more than anything else. And who doesn’t like spending time at sea with pirates? (That is, as long as you do it in such a way that you don’t have to smell them.) To add to the swashbuckling, King peppers the narrative with references to Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.
This book is really for series fans, but it’s a hoot to read.