Captain in Calicoby George Macdonald Fraser
From the author of the famous Flashman series, a standalone adventure novel about a fearless pirate in the eighteenth-century British West Indies.
Scottish author George MacDonald Fraser was famed for his legendary Flashman series, featuring the incorrigible knave Harry Flashman, a soldier in the British imperial army. In the colorful standalone novel Captain in Calico, which has never before been published, Fraser introduces the real-life antihero Captain John Rackham, called “Calico Jack,” an illustrious eighteenth-century pirate who marauded the Caribbean seas.
On a tranquil evening in the Bahamas, Calico Jack, long wanted on counts of piracy, makes a surprise appearance at the governor’s residence and asks for a pardon for himself and his men. A deal is brokered after Jack reveals the motive for turning himself in: love. When Jack last set sail from the Bahamas two years ago, he left behind a beautiful fiancée, and he recently learned that she remains unmarried. What the governor does not reveal to Jack is that while he was off pirating, his beloved has become betrothed to a new man—the governor himself. It doesn’t take long for this truth to come to light, and after embarking on a new romance with the infamous Irish pirate Anne Bonney, Jack is quickly transformed back into a thieving captain in calico.
With his trademark picaresque style and humor, Fraser draws readers into the wild west of the British Empire, where black sails prowl the waters, crooked morals rule in the courthouse and on the plantation, and redemption can be found in the most unexpected places.
“Capt. Jack Rackham arrives on the page fearless and fully formed . . . Fraser’s plot, action scenes, and narrative logic show signs of the accomplished adventure writer he would become. An entertaining story laced with historical references.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[An] energetic tale of piracy and peril . . . The book satisfies as a suspenseful though traditional nautical thriller and a glimpse into Fraser’s development as a writer.” —Publishers Weekly
“A forgotten novel, written 60 years ago and found locked away in a fireproof safe in [Fraser’s] old study, is finally to make it into print . . . Full of the influences of the writers he loved as a boy—Rafael Sabatini, PC Wren, GA Henty, Sir Walter Scott.” —Guardian (UK)
“A remarkably fresh and old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure.” —Pirates and Privateers
“Fraser [is] the world’s greatest storyteller, combining the best of P.G. Wodehouse, Alexandre Dumas and Great Game chronicler Peter Hopkirk . . . Captain incorporates piracy’s tried-and-true hallmarks—treasure, treachery, intermittent romance and high-seas mutiny.” —Maxwell Carter, Wall Street Journal
Tall, spare and active in spite of the greying hair at his temples, Governor Woodes Rogers had the air of one completely masterful and self-possessed. In spite of an expression which was naturally severe and the puckered scars where a Spanish musket-ball had shattered his jaw he was not unhandsome. His mouth was large and generous and his grey eyes startlingly bright against his weather-beaten skin. They ranged briefly now over the tall figure before him.
The big man shifted his weight on to his other foot and said easily: “John Rackham.”
Woodes Rogers’ eyes opened a little wider and then he pushed the candlebranch away very deliberately and repeated the name.
“John Rackham. Also known as Calico Jack.”
The big man smiled faintly and nodded. ‘so they call me,” he said, with a touch of pride in his voice.
Master Dickey was conscious of a certain coolness on his spine which was not caused by the night air.
Of course he knew the name, as he knew the names of “Blackbeard” Ned Teach and Stede Bonnet and every other freebooter of note in the Caribbean waters. But it was one thing to know the name and quite another to be sitting within a few paces of the man himself and to recall that only a few moments earlier he had been trying conclusions with him in a darkened room with an unloaded pistol.