CursedCursed by George Allan England
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Life isn’t fair, and sometimes the bad guy, the bully wins in the end. Penitence can’t erase extreme injustices, and sometimes it will take a supreme sacrifice to make amends. Did I mention that life isn’t fair?

This story introduces us to the diabolical Alpheus Briggs, a drunken maniac of a sea captain that ran his ship with an iron fist, which he used to frequently batter his crew. How somebody didn’t shank this guy long before this story is written only George Allan England knows, but we have to assume that his persona was so terrifying that nobody would take a chance of botching the job. Such an error would be disastrous for not only the perpetrator, but Briggs would likely take out his rage on the rest of the crew as well. So Briggs was in charge, and the crew cowered in fear and respect. I say respect, because although psychotic, he was a leader, and apparently knew how to choose a crew that would succumb to his violent command.

So what made Briggs such a bad guy anyway? No doubt plenty of sea captains were ornery in the day, but Briggs was a special case. Within the first quarter of the book he showed up drunk, punched out his first mate, raped a girl (that he had kidnapped), beat a child, and for good measure tossed some folks overboard for the sharks to enjoy. And as for the deserters from his crew…

With this book being pre-politically correct, Briggs unleashed hell on some Muslim Malays that would cause a snowflake meltdown today. Of course, deciding to go octagon on an entire village was of his own making, so whatever happened to him, he certainly deserved. The Malays cursed him, in more ways than one, and that is our bloody setup.

After the graphic adventure in the orient, the book jumps ahead 50 years, with Briggs now a kindly old retired sea captain. I almost balked at the change in personality until I thought about how I myself have changed over the years. It’s not so far fetched as it seemed initially. Still, it’s hard to have any kind of forgiveness for a man that destroyed so many lives in his youth. Sorry just won’t cut it, and that’s what Briggs was attempting to be. This is where the meat of the story is, which was quite entertaining, but there are always a few issues, and I’ll just go over them without giving any spoilers.

Briggs’ old shipmate shows up at the exact same time as his grandson. It seemed pretty coincidental, but, not impossible I guess. Then there was the curse. Many good folks have been cursed much worse, but Briggs was apparently so superstitious, that he thought something other than heredity was afoot, and the result was chaos. So how do you break a curse anyway? Well, according to England, a good ass-kicking will do the job. There was a message there though. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In this case the power was physical.

Overall, a good story. I gave it three stars, although I would say a high three. Better than average, with all the action you would want. Not gratuitous action though, there is an actual story here, and a pretty good one at that.

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