“With rum, eye patches, peg legs, and a wisecracking parrot in need of a twelve-step program, Pirates of Pensacola blends all the conventions of the pirate genre and creates a novel of comic genius and originality. Keith Thomson is a shrewd and funny writer with a big future ahead of him.” — Linda Fairstein, bestselling author of Entombed
“A swashbuckling parody, Pirates of Pensacola is a fine, breezy read filled with laugh-out-loud scenes and some high-seas drama.—Richard Zacks, best-selling author of The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd
Kirkus Book Reviews:
Pirates sail again in Thomson’s rollicking debut, a tall,
fanciful tale that throws us headlong into a world of peg-legged sea dogs and
hidden treasure, just minutes from your nearest Sandals resort. That’s
where buttoned-down, 36-year-old accountant Morgan Baker finds himself when
long-lost dad Isaac, recently sprung from prison, steals the Vail & Company
yacht, intent on retrieving the $40-million worth of gold ingots he stashed on
a remote Caribbean island 28 years earlier. Morgan soon learns that he and his
delinquent dad are direct descendants of the notorious Cookes, legendary
pirates of yore. Unfortunately, Morgan also discovers that his employers,
smarmy and suave CEO Avery Vail and his foulmouthed dowager mother Isabel, are
direct descendants of their archrivals, the Hoods, who still hold to the pirate
credo, “Dead mean tell no tales.” Morgan quickly discards Plan A
(reforming wayward dad) in favor of Plan B (joining him). The chase for the
buried treasure is on, set against a backdrop of remote Caribbean islands
seemingly untouched by time - or soap - and populated by the crew of the Jolly
Roger. Screenwriter and Web site cartoon animator Thomson doesn’t waste much
effort on gritty details or character nuance. Instead, he sends readers into a
maelstrom alongside Morgan and Isaac from one pitched battle to the next. The pirates fight in bars,
brawl in brothels, escape (improbably) from Old World dungeons and
booby-trapped caves, and set off sufficient fireworks to fuel several Jerry
Bruckheimer movies. Granted, believability walks the plank in the
process. But who’s expecting
realism in a story that features an alcoholic parrot, a curvy, tattooed
manicurist equally handy with nail file and pirate’s cutlass, and a boatload of
eye-patched, grog-swilling characters with names like Squid, Hatch and Fife?
A dizzying plot served up
with tankards of disarming deadpan humor, a smattering of actual pirate history
and characters just engaging enough to have us swallow it all.
Matey, if you spy these pirates, you're in for a madcap adventure
Beware, mateys, there be pirates in these waters.
And they're funny.
Pirate stories tend to be tales of swashbuckling adventure, derring-do and romance, and "Pirates of Pensacola" by Keith Thomson, is all of these. But rarely are pirate adventures so laugh-out-loud funny.
This is the time of year when the days get longer, the nights warmer, and we find ourselves wondering what we're doing in some cramped cubicle in an airless office, or stuck in steamy, bumper-to-bumper traffic. It's too bad we can't escape and have a real adventure.
Or can we?
Morgan Cooke is the most boring man you'd never want to meet, a low-level accountant in a huge, multinational firm, dreaming of a nice house in the suburbs just like all the other houses in the suburbs. Then his ne'er-do-well father, Isaac, shows up out of nowhere -- well, not nowhere, but jail to be precise -- and opens a new world to him.
Morgan, it turns out, is last in a line of famous pirates, and there's a treasure to be recovered -- $45 million in buried gold. But a rival pirate family is hot in pursuit. Morgan is dragged along on an adventure that involves a stolen map, a parrot in need of AA, a dusky wench in need of rescuing, crooked cops, mercenaries, a hilarious hunt through a bordello, and the ultimate tavern brawl.
Along the way he discovers that peg-legged pirates are the least of his worries. A pinstriped corporate buccaneer armed with lawyers and thugs can prove even more dangerous than the traditional eye-patched villain.
Will Morgan find the treasure, rescue the girl and make amends with his estranged father while discovering his inner pirate? Of course, he will! The ending will surprise no one, and it's not a shock when the good guys prevail and the bad 'uns get their comeuppance.
But that's not the point. It's how the pieces play out that is so delightful. The humor is confident, the madcap twists and turns skillfully executed at a breakneck pace, and the familiar story plays out to a delightful climax, with Morgan the accountant swinging from the rigging and wielding his rapier on the quarterdeck of a sinking ship.
With its various oceangoing lowlifes, swashbuckling heroics and quirky humor, "Pirates of Pensacola" reads like a collaboration between Robert Louis Stevenson, Dave Barry and Douglas Adams after a night on the town.
In our humdrum existence, "Pirates of Pensacola" offers hope.
There be pirates in these waters. Aarrr!
The Talk Like A Pirate Day Poopdeck:
New Swashbuckler Conveys Spirit of Pirattitude
A terrific new book has just washed in with the tide, and you definitely want to keep an eye out for it at your local bookstore. If your local bookstore doesn’t carry it, march right up to the counter, pound your fist firmly – in a friendly way – and say, "Avast there, ya scurvy local bookworm! What's the matter with you, not carrying Keith Thomson's 'Pirates of Pensacola'?"
Thomson's novel is a modern-day pirate story, and it's a hoot. He tells the tale of Morgan Baker, a boring, low-level accountant for a huge multinational corporation, who discovers that he has pirate blood in his veins - in fact, he's last in a long line of famous freebooters. He's dragged by his estranged father on a wild adventure involving a stolen map, buried treasure, the funniest funeral you've ever attended, peg-legged buccaneers, a parrot in need of a 12-step program, a dusky wench in need of rescuing, corporate pirates, a bang-up bar brawl and lots more. I literally had to put the book down to laugh several times during the a hilarious chase through a bordello. Scared the hell out of my kids, let me tell you.
It's a grand adventure, and it’s laugh-out-loud funny! "Pirates of Pensacola" reads like a collaboration between Robert Louis Stevenson, Dave Barry and Douglas Adams after a night on the town. Will Morgan recover the map, find the treasure, rescue the girl, dry out the parrot and make amends with his father while discovering his inner pirattitude? Of course he will! It'll be no surprise when the good guys triumph and the bad guys get their comeuppance. It's HOW the story plays out that’s so fun.
—John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur
Publishers Weekly: A pirate arrives by motorboat to crash a high society costume ball in 1976 Florida and winds up abandoning his only son, Morgan, for a prison sentence in screenwriter Thomson’s beguiling, energetic debut. Flash forward to 2004 Miami, where Vail & Co. accountant Morgan feels scarred from a cheerless childhood with an insensitive foster family. But then Isaac, newly freed from prison, resurfaces to regale Morgan with the story of $42.7 million worth of gold ingots he’d smuggled decades earlier from the rival Hood family of the Caribbean’s Sugar Islands. And by the way, Isaac tells the baffled Morgan, your real last name is Cooke, “as in the great Pirates Cooke.” “Borrowing” Morgan’s company’s yacht, enthusiastic father drugs reluctant son and sets off with treasure map in hand. They must fend off Vail & Co. crooks and a succession of deadly pirates led by the revenge-hungry Lafitte brothers. The father-son epic quest finds them jail-breaking, boat-stealing, cannonball-dodging and male-bonding on their way to Booty Island's treasure (with assistance from plucky maiden Polly and an alcoholic talking parrot, Captain Roy). Crowned with buccaneer vernacular, plenty of colorful extras and a feel-good ending, it’s a vivid adventure tale befitting the high seas of Hollywood.
At its core a fish-out-of-water story, Pirates of Pensacola follows the adventures of Morgan Cooke, an accountant, and his estranged father Isaac, a pirate (who'd been detained by the Florida Penal System for some decades.) Morgan, who's spent his entire life seeking nothing more than security and a white picket fence, is thrust into a world of scoundrels, brothels, bar fights, and conch-salad sandwiches. He and his father comb the Caribbean in search of a long-lost treasure, all the while pursued by most every sort of unsavory imaginable (up to, and including, a pair of inbred, grudge-toting barbers.) Thomson's account of their exploits is hilarious, but it's also exciting and touching. His characters are brimming with personality; they share any range of stereotypical, yet somehow believable, pirate traits. By the same token, Thomson's descriptions of the various pirate islands and towns flow with so much local color you can almost smell the conch-burger.
Pirates of Pensacola is a fantastic read. Brilliantly clever and funny, Keith Thomson has done a remarkable job creating a world that will ring familiar to many pirate enthusiasts. Familiar, not because we've been there, but because this is the world as it SHOULD exist - a world where lopers can drop their day jobs and man a sloop for a proper day of mayhem, where the ship's cook is a lousy chef but a master gunner, and where, absent email, phones, or radios, communications are carried from island to island by rum-swilling parrot. It's a fascinating, edgy, wonderful glimpse at the pirate utopia of our dreams, and I sincerely hope Keith Thomson can show us more very soon.
The Jolly Roger Pirate Journal:
PIRATES OF PENSACOLA by Keith Thomson. (Novel) Though it is fiction I enjoyed this modern day pirate adventure and found it devilishly charming and a real pirate treat. The Cooke and Hood families have been at each others’ throats since the days of the Spanish Main. Finally, in the year 2004, their latest chapter unfolds to us about their barbary piracy deeds as Morgan Cooke, a mild-mannered landlubber who works in an office cubicle, is confronted by his father who 20 years ealier had been sent to prison for robbery. This robbery takes place in the first chapter and then the book jumps ahead 20 years. Yet, when a treasure map revealing the gold turns up, Morgan is not the least bit interested. As a matter of fact, his father has to kidnap him to get him to go along on the journey into the Caribbean and retrieve the gold. Thus we have the setting for what turns out to be high excitement adventure and daring deeds of those long ago days of piratehood--reincarnated into the 21st century just for the readers enjoyment. And, with 40 million dollars worth of treasure, you can bet your sea chest there will be lots of action and a bit of humor tossed in to keep your attention from getting too serious.
—"Redbeard" Bob L’Aloge
This book would be easy to underestimate; its premise of a modern-day classical pirate kidnapping his estranged accountant son in a quest for buried gold sounds like fine material for an over-the-top parody, and its cover featuring a cartoon parrot perched on a lap top computer certainly implies a happy-go-lucky seagoing adventure - yet neither feature betrays a hint of how much is really at work here.
Author Keith Thomson envisions a Caribbean full of modern pirates with roots firmly planted in days of yore. Motorboats and shotguns abound, but so do eye patches and peg legs. Tiny, uncharted islands provide the base of operations for bloodthirsty scallywags as they spend their days pillaging, wenching, and grogging while the rest of the world remains blissfully unaware. Being a comedy, this unlikely scenario could easily be dismissed as a mere quirk of chance or artistic license, but Thomson goes above and beyond the call as he weaves a tale that makes the existence of old-timey pirates not only just-this-side of feasible, but may induce readers to wonder why they themselves couldn't be so lucky as to have been born in the Sugar Islands.