cover image Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Justin Scott. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (234pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11368-1

Scott, veteran writer of sea stories and mysteries (Shipkiller, Hardscape), sets this modernized treatment of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic on New York's Long Island in the 1950s. While often verging on the burlesque, the result offers up some amusing twists, particularly in its presentation of the characters. The most interesting update is Dr. Livesey, now a sexy, Gauloise-smoking woman. The Hispaniola has become a war-surplus salvage tug, while a bawdy WWII ditty replaces ``Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.'' For the most part, the changes are engaging, and Scott deftly maintains Stevenson's superb pacing, rewriting the original virtually line by line. But, though the Americanization of the old English may attract a less scholarly generation of readers, those who have thrilled to the incomparable original will surely grieve for the loss of language. Moreover, while it may be intriguing to imagine a little hanky-panky between Senator (formerly Squire) Trelawney and the foxy Dr. Livesey, it is hard to picture Captain Smollett and Ben Gunn addicted to Fig Newtons. (Dec.)