From Publishers Weekly
After more than a quarter century of chronicling the aquatic adventures of action hero Dirt Pitt, Cussler (Flood Tide; Shock Wave) has finally decided to cast his line in somewhat different waters. Co-written by veteran mystery author Paul Kemprecos (Bluefin Blues; The Mayflower Murder), this novel still features the sturdy men and women of the National Underwater Marine Agency, plenty of hair-raising derring-do and a convivial cast of characters engaged in an outlandishly hatched thrill ride. The stars of this show are NUMA divers Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala, two young bucks without the seasoning and panache of Pitt but worthy successors, nonetheless. They are trying to find out why top archeologists are being killed, some of them butchered, at dig sites. The archeologists have apparently stumbled across artifacts proving, contrary to established historical thought, that Christopher Columbus wasn't the first Old World explorer to set foot in the New World. The killings can be traced to a mysterious organization in Texas called Time Quest, whose stated mission is to provide volunteers for digs. Its real intention, however, is much darker: to prevent anyone from learning that Spain was not the first on the scene in the New World and that the culture it claimed to discover had, in fact, been imported from other corners of the globe. Ultimately, Time Quest's leader, the evil Francisco Halcon, wants to foment revolution in the Western U.S. and reclaim it as Latin-American territory. The showdown between Halcon and NUMA's forces plays out in typical Cussler furyAfirst on the decks of the sunken passenger liner Andrea Doria in the waters off Nantucket and again in an underwater Mayan crypt in Guatemala. It's all great fun, if not a little top-heavy at times from flabby subplots and excessive detail on arcane historical facts and the machinery of deep-sea exploration. As for Pitt, his fans will be relieved to know that he and longtime sidekick Al Giordino make a brief appearance to wish Austin and Zavala luck, then depart for a mission in Antarctica, no doubt to return with tales of peril and glory. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
It won't surprise those who remember Cussler's Raise the Titanic!
(1976) that he now uses the 1956 sinking of the Andrea Doria
as the springboard for another thriller involving the National Underwater and Maritime Agency. According to Cussler, the Andrea Doria
sinking was deliberate, but that secret begins unraveling two generations later, when archaeologist Nina Kirov, fleeing a "terrorist" attack on her dig, is rescued by a NUMA vessel. Aboard are Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala, NUMA field operatives equally deft with underwater hardware and the ladies. The pair's first job is standing off the "terrorists" pursuing Kirov. Plots--not to mention counterplots--rapidly thicken as NUMA squares off against Halcon, who is clearly a descendant of Fu Manchu despite his Latino characterization. Halcon seeks an immense treasure, brought by fleeing Carthaginians to the Mayan empire, to finance an independent Latino nation in the U.S. Southwest. Before Halcon is defeated, Cussler dispenses, with new collaborator Kemprecos' aid, the fast action, larger-than-life characters, less-than-graceful prose, credulity-stretching scenarios, and high-saltwater content that are his trademarks. A superlative subplot relays the adventures of archaeologist Gamay Trout and her companion, the Mayan Dr. Chi, as they try to escape outlaws, Halcon's minions, and the natural hazards of the Yucatan Peninsula. Likely to prove eminently satisfactory to Cussler fans. Roland Green