Michael Crichton was my favorite modern author. He was a brilliant person as well as a phenomenal writer. He succeeded in numerous fields in addition to fiction.
"Pirate Latitudes" was discovered after his death. Crichton did not apparently think it was ready for publication. Indeed, no where near ready.
In short, the book is a flop--for Crichton, a flop. It's not bad, but it's not good either. It is undoubtedly the worst Crichton book I have read. It's formulaic and straight, which Crichton's novels never were.
"Pirate Latitudes" can only be read with pleasure by a die hard Crichton junky (I consider myself one). And yet, honestly, it's not a very good novel.
Some of my favorite Critchton novels include: The Great Train Robbery, Eaters of the Dead, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Sphere, and The Jurassic Park series.
Mid-level novels include: Next, Prey, Timeline, The Terminal Man, and Airframe.
Poor outings include: Pirate Latitudes and State of Fear.
Unread: Disclosure and Rising Sun.