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Under the Jolly Roger: 01/13/19

Under the Jolly Roger

Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer is the third of the Bloody Jack books and I think the last one I'm going to read. Jackie is back in London after her sojourn in the United States. She's trying to track down her boyfriend but ends up back on another ship and eventually becomes captain of it.

Throughout this series I've had problems with the authenticity of Jackie's voice. She's a pendulum swinging between total ignorance and total expertise in whatever she's currently engaged in. There is no rhyme or reason to what she knows, when she knows it. Instead her knowledge is driven by plot convenience — what will drive the melodrama.

This volume though brought up another oddity of the series — namely the referencing of every single real or literary nautical story. Under the Jolly Roger opens with Jackie sailing in on the Pequod. I should be excited to see a crossover with one of my favorite delinquent crews but Meyer in trying to prove he knows better than Melville how whaling worked, he's changed everything around. Captain Ahab is married and his wife and children are onboard. The wife even gives birth (with Jackie helping — of course). Repeat after me: Moby Dick isn't supposed to be a realistic or serious literary account of whaling — it's a homoerotic farce about men's obsessions.

The book goes downhill from there, becoming de facto Perils of Pauline on the high seas. First there's the evil new girl friend. Then there's the brief stint as a jockey. Then there's being kidnapped and put onboard ship again. Then there's the almost rape scene. Then bam — she's a captain and decides to turn pirate all in the King's name.

No. Just no. Stop. Let me off this ship. I'll just swim to shore.

Two stars

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