There comes a time when authors "jump the shark." Tom Clancy's was when he began "writing" the Net Force series (which I fondly call Net Farce); John Grisham did it with The King Of Torts; Kathy Reichs latest, Bare Bones, comes close (her rant at the end is out of character for the main character, Tempe Brennan). For Clive Cussler, it's Golden Buddha.
Although his name is prominent on the cover, this latest book is co-written with Craig Dirgo, who's written with Cussler before on The Sea Hunters books. In those, you can obviously tell which parts Cussler wrote and which Dirgo wrote - Dirgo's parts did not flow as well and sometimes contained inaccuracies in the facts. He should take a writing class.
Golden Buddha is a new series called The Oregon Files, featuring a main character named Juan Cabrillo who is tall, blonde and blue-eyed (much like Kurt Austin in the other spinoff series by Cussler and Paul Kemprecos). He and his crew of the ship Oregon take on "jobs" that most mercenaries wouldn't touch. They all showed up in a previous Dirk Pitt novel , Flood Tide, and I guess Cussler thought it would be a good spinoff. It could've been, but it isn't.
First of all, the book is about putting the Dalai Lama back in power in Tibet, which is why a very large golden Buddha must be recovered - there is a secret compartment in it with important information. I wish the Dalai Lama character hadn't been based on a real person - this made the entire story very unrealistic (if it does come true by 2005, the date in the book, I'll eat my hat). A fictional religious leader would have been a better bet. Also, Russian President Putin is named, but the President of the USA is not - he's just called the President. Who says Putin will still be in power in 2005? These inconsistencies drove me nuts.
The book reads like a TV movie waiting to be made. There are way too many characters to keep track of (even with the listing of each character's name and function at the beginning of the book) and the writing could have been much better, if Cussler had written more of it. You can tell which parts he wrote versus Dirgo - Cussler's flows beautifully, while Dirgo's is choppy and often contained odd words (the worst was "containerized ship" - as far as I know, they're more commonly known as container ships).
Characters use cutesy comments way too much - I don't know anyone in real life who talks like these people.
Scenes jumped helter skelter and I began getting confused, so I started skipping parts.
The best part of this book was near the beginning when Cabrillo and his crew have to recover the golden Buddha from a party in Macau. That was well done and exciting.
I love the Dirk Pitt adventures and the Kurt Austin books, but if the next Oregon Files is "cowritten" with Dirgo, I'll pass.