"Flash forth lightning and scatter them;
Shoot out Your arrows and destroy them.
Stretch out Your hand from above;
Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters,
From the hand of foreigners,
Whose mouth speaks lying words,
And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood." -- Psalm 144:6-8 (NKJV)
Most thrillers follow one of these formulas:
1. Superhuman heroes attempt to overcome impossible odds and succeed.
2. Heroes use advanced technology and quick wits to surprise and defeat overconfident opponents.
3. A global plot to dominate the world threatens life as we know it and a small band is all that can stop what's going on.
4. Wisecracking heroes take on tough tasks with panache.
What happens in each case is that the heroes resemble Superman more than any real person . . . combined with an ability to rarely make a mistake. The fun comes from either the surprising ways that the heroes succeed or the appeal of their swagger as they do.
After you've read hundreds of such stories, you yearn for something a little different . . . and that's what Clive Cussler has delivered with Jack Du Brul in The Jungle. Be prepared for some occasional heroic fallibility. It makes for a nice change of pace, without slowing down the action . . . which involves a lot of different venues and story lines.
Each aspect of the story brought at least some tiny surprises that brought a smile to my face.
Why, then, didn't I rate the story at five stars? As in some of the Dirk Pitt novels, the authors' technological imagination goes a little too far to be fully credible. Instead, you lose your ability to stay immersed in the novel from time to time . . . and find yourself watching the story unfold.
I thought that the book's Prologue was one of the most imaginative that Mr. Cussler has written or collaborated on, stepping into 13th century China to observe an army unveiling a new way to quickly win a siege.
Back in the present, we quickly get a sense that the ancient secret is going to be important to this story. From there, we find the Oregon on private assignments now that it's no longer in the good graces of the U.S. government after the events that concluded The Silent Sea. It's a dicier world, and new challenges are presented.
Some may be slightly disappointed that the Oregon doesn't play as much of a role as a technological marvel as usual, but I enjoyed the challenges falling more on the crew . . . rather than as much on the unexpected defenses and armament.
I sincerely hope that this writing duo will come back with some more plots in this vein, dampened down in terms of the technological threat to more realistic levels.
By the way, this is another one of those novels where the Kindle pricing makes no sense compared to the hardcover price.