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When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek

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A community at risk, a family in turmoil, and a young boy becoming a man... A death on Loyalty Island leads a 14-year-old boy to be swept up in a storm of lies and deceit. A thrilling American debut.

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man, a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'Cleverly complex and deeply fascinating...Nick Dybek’s novel is truly beautiful and affecting' - Lucinda Fountain. Scroll down to read more reviews.


When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek

Loyalty Island is a small fishing community dependent on the Gaunt family fleet for survival. Each winter, Cal's father - a captain of the fleet - sets sail for Alaska to trawl for crab. Cal may be too young to join in their adventure, but he is old enough to know that everything depends on the fate of those few boats thousands of miles north. When the fleet's owner, John Gaunt, dies, he leaves the town's livelihood in peril. With winter fast approaching, Cal starts to suspect that his father may have taken extreme measures to save the fleet from extinction...Plagued by doubt, his loyalties strained and his moral compass in tatters, Cal is forced to make a terrible choice.


We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man. You can read their reviews below.

Lucinda Fountain - Cleverly complex and deeply fascinating, the intoxicating intensity of this well-drawn thriller is simply stunning...Nick Dybek’s novel is truly beautiful and affecting, which has pleasantly surprised me as I did not expect to encounter something so impacting.' Click here to read the full review.

Fleur Fisher - 'This quietly compelling debut novel portrays a young man living in a small fishing community, a painful decision he must make, and his coming of age to very fine effect.' Click here to read the full review.

Edel Waugh - 'The story is told well through Cal's sympathetic eyes ,he is a wonderful lead character that is easy to empathise with. This was a wonderful story!' Click here to read the full review.

Rebecca Barrett - 'Cal was a very intricate character, who had a father that felt like a stranger to him, and that showed the emotion that carried the novel into a fast-moving, tragedy that was a shockingly great read.' Click here to read the full review.

Zarina de Ruiter - 'The novel is beautifully written but focuses more on the prose than on establishing a storyline, which is an at least equally important aspect of creating a successful read.' Click here to read the full review.

Ruth Paterson - 'When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man is very well written with vivid descriptions and clever characterisations.' Click here to read the full review.

Clare Topping - 'Although it is a slow moving book it is nonetheless enjoyable; a fast paced thriller in a slow moving town really wouldn’t work. Definitely recommended for a day or two’s decadent reading.' Click here to read the full review.

Julie Bertschin - 'This is a tense story, there is a sense of foreboding right from the start of the novel and this slowly increases as the story progresses...A very engrossing read.' Click here to read the full review.

'Dybek brings serious talent to bear... [The novel] finishes on a powerful note of moral murkiness... Evocative.' New York Times

'Finely crafted ... a taut novel juggling the sometimes conflicting impulses to do the moral thing, and to protect those we love' Los Angeles Times

'Dybek has a gift for the atmospheric.' The New Yorker

'An engrossing and exacting moral thriller.' -- Peter Ho Davies, Author Of The Welsh Girl

'A thrilling yarn, delivered as if by a scarred man by the consoling light of a fire.' The Economist

'An authentic, atmospheric, coming-of-age story with a painful dilemma ... A terrific debut.' -- C. J. Box

'[An] engrossing, often haunting thriller.' Washington Independent Review of Books

About the Author

Nick Dybek

Nick Dybek is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was chosen as a Granta New Voice. He is the recipient of a Hopwood Award for Short Fiction, a Maytag Fellowship and a 2010 Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award. When Captain Flint Was Still A Good Man is his first novel. He lives in New York.

Author photo © Melissa Blackall

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


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Literary Fiction
Family Drama
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