When Captain Flint Was a Good Man
by Nick Dybek
Loyalty Island, home to fifteen year old Cal Bolling, is a dark and murky place off the Olympic Peninsula where Cal’s father operates a crabbing boat for the local fleet owned by John Gaunt. When Gaunt suddenly dies and his cynical and unpredictable son, Richard, decides to sell the business, the livelihood of the entire island is threatened. But before he can sell, Richard inexplicably decides to join the fleet in Alaska and is lost overboard. It is a tragedy that doesn’t greatly upset the families of the island who will now continue to have work. Cal, however, soon discovers that Richard is alive, chained up in the basement of Cal’s own house. He and his best friend, whose fathers are involved in the kidnapping, visit Richard even as they keep his existence secret. They want to free Richard before the fleet returns and he is likely to be murdered, but they also want the legendary industry of Loyalty Island to survive. It is an excruciating moral dilemma that tests their friendship, their conscience and their allegiance to their families.
Cal grew up on stories of the pirate Captain Flint, who murdered his own crew after they buried chests of gold for him in Treasure Island. Just as he rooted for the doomed pirates in Stevenson’s tale, Cal, wants Richard to somehow survive. Teen readers will appreciate the Goonies-like friendship and banter between Richard and his friend; lovers of Treasure Island will enjoy the parallels to that classic tale.