“The coast of buccaneers” and “Operation: midnight”

THE BUCANIER’S COAST: BLOOD, STEEL AND EMPIRE, BOOK I by James L. Nelson; Fore Topsail Press, 2021; 340 pages, $14.99.

THE BUCANIER’S COAST: BLOOD, STEEL AND EMPIRE, BOOK I

Pirates have been around for a thousand years, romanticized by novelists and Hollywood, but the reality is that none of them have ever been like Captain Jack Sparrow. And the first volume in a new series from Maine writer James Nelson reveals just how brutal and sadistic sea robbers really were in the 17th century.

Nelson is the award-winning author of two dozen books, fiction and non-fiction, with gripping stories about Vikings, pirates and colonial naval warfare. His historical fiction is well known for its precision, realism and complex storytelling. They all offer fascinating history lessons, and this new tale is probably the best historical presentation of the 17th century Spanish Main, imperial conflicts, treasure galleons and the first formation at sea of ​​the buccaneer scourge that sowed the terror in the Caribbean.

The year is 1629 and Jean-Baptiste LeBouef survives on the northwest coast of Hispaniola (think Dominican Republic) as a “buccaneer” (buccaneer), killing pigs, then selling the smoked meat to passing ships. A devastating hurricane delivers an abandoned ship to Jean and his fellow buccaneers. These men are outcasts, criminals, deserters, dregs of the waterfront with gold, rum and women as currency. And only Jean knows what really hides inside the ship.

Don Alonzo de Aviles is the new Lieutenant Governor of Hispaniola, headquartered in Santo Domingo. He is a lying, scheming and corrupt opportunist who seeks only power and fortune, in cahoots with a notorious smuggler. He wants this abandoned ship and will do anything to get it.

Betrayal, betrayal and killers stalk the two men, each seizing an advantage while trying to avoid assassins, Spanish cannons and bloodthirsty pirates who show their victims no quarter. It’s a rousing pirate story loaded with suspense, intrigue and bloody action, while providing an exceptional story of the Spanish, French, English and Dutch rivalries in the Caribbean.

OPERATION: MIDNIGHT by Rick Simonds; Chase Lane Publishers, 2021; 308 pages, $15.99.

OPERATION: MIDNIGHT

Being a server at an upscale New Orleans restaurant is big business for Lonnie Clifford – big money, big tips, a generous boss and a waiter act that makes him a popular novelty with customers. Then a creepy stalker tells Lonnie his life is in danger. Such news can spoil the mood.

“Operation: Midnight” is Brunswick author Rick Simonds’ third thriller after “Blood Code” and “Blood Sport.” The first two novels involved cops and crime; this one is more cerebral and complex, and includes illegal government experiments, an insidious cover-up, and people willing to kill to find Lonnie.

Simonds spins a good thread, but readers beware: it’s a much more convoluted plot than the first two books, and will require careful and deliberate reading to follow. The stalker is a frightened government scientist on the run with a briefcase full of stolen top secret files on deadly experiments to create genetically engineered superhumans. Apparently two of these “super babies” already exist and someone thinks Lonnie is one of them, and that’s what makes him a target.

Oddly enough, for a 21-year-old who is so smart (math expert, speaks six languages, remembers everything), Lonnie is actually quite stupid and naive. He talks too much, is overconfident, talks to the wrong people, can’t spot a liar, and doesn’t see obvious signs of deception and potential danger (the reader will see them all, but not Lonnie). He walks right into trouble.

Surprising family relationships and unexplained wealth become suspicious, and two intricately coded letters lead him to more questions than answers. And Lonnie finds himself depending on a dishwasher, a golfer and a waitress to save his life. Amazingly, even the FBI seems incompetent in the end.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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