THE CURSE OF TREASURE ISLAND
This sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's 1893 classic packs a great deal of adventure into a relatively small package. However, escapades and high melodrama are nearly all that's offered. Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy who narrated Treasure Island, is now 21; he helps to operate the Admiral Benbow Inn, where he regales travelers with tales of his seafaring adventures. Enter a beautiful young woman named Grace Richardson, who, traveling with her son, is being pursued by sinister types. She begs Jim to help her find the pirate Joseph Tait, last known to be marooned on Treasure Island. Hawkins initially demurs and offers her accommodation at the Admiral Benbow, but after a series of hair-raising events, he finds himself a fugitive and is soon on his way back to the island. Grace stubbornly refuses to provide any details about why she must find Tait, or who her pursuers are, and this is where the story falls apart. It is impossible to believe that everyone involved would set off on an expensive and dangerous voyage with so little to go on. At least a dozen men die, which probably could have been avoided had Richardson explained herself. Long John Silver and his famous parrot make an appearance, and Bryan offers plenty of swordplay and spilled blood. A key problem is that the too-good-to-be-true Hawkins narrates, so no matter how perilous his situation, we know he survives. Stick with the original. (May 13)
FYI:Francis Bryan is the pseudonym of a well-known British broadcast journalist.