Boston Jacky: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Taking Care of Business by L.A. Meyer is the eleventh book in the Bloody Jack series.
After her recent harrowing adventures in China, England, and Spain, Jacky is headed back to Boston to check in on her interests there -- Boston is, after all, where Faber Shipping Worldwide is officially headquartered, not to mention home to many of Jacky's friends. Jacky soon discovers that all is not well in her adopted hometown: established residents are hostile towards the influx of Irish immigrants, rival "fire companies" have sprung up and are reputedly setting more fires than they are putting out, an old enemy from Jacky's street urchin days is in town, and the Pig & Whistle, Jacky's favorite old haunt, is on the brink of closure. Jacky quickly buys up the Pig, as well as a building to turn into a theatre, but she must be circumspect -- after all, there will be penalties if Jacky appears in Judge Thwackham's courtroom again. Unfortunately, "circumspect" isn't exactly in Jacky's vocabulary, and by the end of the book, Jacky will have been accused of many things, including disturbing the peace, being an unfit mother to her ward Ravi, and . . . witchcraft?!?
I have such mixed feelings about this series at this point. On one hand, this book is a definite improvement over the last book, which I found generally disappointing. It's always nice to catch up with Jacky's old friends, and there's plenty of humor and "Oh, Jacky!" moments to keep the reader entertained. On the other hand, this book doesn't really cover any new ground -- both the setting and the characters are familiar, and Jacky is on land for the bulk of the book, rather than at sea, where she really shines. Also, this book kicks up the raunchiness factor a few notches -- there have always been some slightly naughty bits in Jacky's story up until now, but there's a lot more overt and sometimes distasteful stuff in this one (or maybe I'm just not as forgiving of human nature as Jacky always is). As usual, Jacky makes it through the book with her somewhat tattered virtue still intact, but this is mostly because Jaimy, though on the scene for most of the story, decides to disguise himself and watch from afar, rather than be reunited with his childhood sweetheart. Alas, Jacky and Jaimy's relationship has shifted from a sweet romance to something full of resentment, obligations, and guilt, and at this point I'm not even sure I want to see them get back together.
Dedicated fans of the series, if they have made it this far, will probably enjoy this book. However, I find myself wishing that Meyer had planned out Jacky's adventures with a little more care and a definite ending point. Right now, the series seems to be drifting along, rudderless, and I kind of hope that it comes to shore soon.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)