I've read all of the Dirk Pitt books, so I bought this book knowing that I would inevitably compare Kurt Austin with Dirk Pitt. Even with the help of Paul Kemprecos, it was clearly evident that this would be yet another adventure straight from the Cussler formula machine. Every single Dirk Pitt novel is pretty much the same. There's 1) some kind of maritime accident/crime that happened in the past, 2) some kind of fantastic treasure or valuable cargo on it, 3) an evil psychopath that wants to destroy the world, 4) a woman in jeopardy, and 5) Dirk/Kurt to the rescue.
Having said that, I thought this book was entertaining. Even though all of Cussler's books tend to be the same, I still thought it was a rip-roaring adventure. I couldn't really detect what value Kemprecos added, though. It was as if Cussler wrote this book himself.
My only major complaint would be that I'm a little disappointed that since he was starting a new series, that Cussler couldn't even try to make it more unique. The pairing of a tall, thin Anglo Saxon man who collects strange things (cars/pistols) with a short, stocky, strong ethnic (Italian/Latino) partner who smokes cigars.... oh well. People complain that this is a Dirk/Al clone, and rightly so.