Pirate Latitudes starts off strong, progresses into pulpy pirate adventure fare, and by the end gets a little rushed and hackneyed. The descriptions laid out in the beginning are engaging and florid: by the end the descriptions have the spareness of a screenplay, a form of writing that Crichton was no doubt very familiar with before his untimely passing. The formation of a team of privateers to pull off a big pirate score owes a debt to the heist movie genre, and the many times that Hunter, the privateer protagonist, escapes capture or death owes a bit to good pulp plotting.
Unfortunately, I must take off a few stars for the times it snapped my suspenders of disbelief: our heroes are deadly accurate with muskets, yet the enemy has trouble hitting our heroes or for that matter a barn wall. This isn't so bad except at one point it includes an antagonist who is built up as one of the deadliest killers on the sea, with no ruse or distraction to throw off his aim. For a novel that is reasonably grounded in reality, it also includes a sea monster... not just a squid, but a kraken of such massive size as to drag our heroes back down 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Many of Crichton's details sound convincing, but they were undercut in my mind by an offhanded reference to the bowsprit being an unimportant place to hit on an enemy ship. That's not accurate: all the ropes that go from the masts to the bowsprit are there for a reason. Lose the ropes, lose the sails.
Lastly, I'd be remiss in this day and age if I didn't warn the readers that there's some bodice-ripping in this novel, some consensual and relevant to the plot, and two or three instances where it is only one or neither. Still, the novel keeps moving well past the point where I imagined it would end, throwing more difficulties into our protagonist's path, and I'm not sorry I read the whole thing. 3 out of 5.