You may have seen my story here about taking the big boat from Baltimore to Bermuda and back.
My dear wife Karen has made a cruise ship regular out of me.
And yet I just finished reading “Pirate Alley,” the latest novel by Stephen Coonts. If the title isn’t self-explanatory enough for you, take a good look at the accompanying cover art taken from the copy I checked out of the Onondaga County Public Library here in Syracuse, N.Y. Yup, that is an illustration of a cruise ship surrounded by pirate skiffs.
It is very realistic fiction.
I chose to ignore the possibilities of bad dreams and scary thoughts to come. You the karma. It’s the reason I speculate that they’d never, ever show the movie “The Titanic” in the onboard ship movie theater.
I read on because I am a fan of Coonts’ long and exciting series that features the military minds of Jake Grafton, Toad Tarkington and Tommy Carmellini.
“Pirate Alley” is Coonts’ 17th solo novel. I’ve indeed started with his premiere, “Flight of the Intruder,” and continued through the rich line.
Coonts paints the three characters above as men you can believe in. Grafton is a leader quick of thought and cool in decision. Tarkington is one rung below in the military order, unafraid to carry out the plan. Carmellini is the guy on the ground, accepting of the CIA dirty work but smart enough to question what he does and wonder about his place in the world order.
In “Pirate Alley,” the U.S. gets involved after Somalian pirates hijack the cruise ship “Sultan of the Seas” in the Gulf of Aden.
Coonts creates a scary and totally believeable scene as British captain Arch Penney attempts to save his ship, and the lives of his 850 passengers and crew.
The pirates bring them to a dirty place in a hostile world, and the tale unfolds with plenty of suspense, mystery, twists and turns.
I couldn’t put it down.
This, just months after watching Tom Hanks so realistic with the burden and atrociity as the captain of a freighter highjacked in the same area of the world in “Captain Phillips.”
And yet we will cruise again. This novel and its story within will not come to my lips on the high seas.
If you were a regular cruise-taker, would you be spooked by reading a novel like “Pirate Alley,” or would you just dive in? Did you see “Captain Phillips,” and do you follow the issue of modern pirates?