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on June 5, 2002
Clive Cussler has done what some other accomplished writers have tried and failed to do. He started a new series that he co-authors, he has kept the quality of the reading very near that of his own books, and now they have gone from a paperback format to hardcover. The last step is a major one and speaks very well of the care this new series was created with. Other authors have tried the same diversification and they are not worth the soft cover format they were introduced with, and will never see the more expensive binding.
The central organization is the same; specifically NUMA, but the central character and the events he is involved in are stepped down from the more outrageous elements that sometimes turn a Dirk Pitt adventure into something akin to Indiana Jones. The famous bathtub escape comes to mind. The Pitt adventures have become classic in the genre and they make for great reading, they also have had occasion to go over the top at times. Kurt Austin is Dirk Pitt on a smaller scale. Austin collects antique dueling pistols while Dirk accumulates World War Two German Jets, railroad cars, and fantastically rare cars.
The idea of introducing a Romanov theme into a story is a gutsy decision for it has been used countless times, and in the majority of uses has become an overused cliché. Cussler and Paul Kemprecos handle the idea well, and while it is still a bit fantastic it does not cross the line in to storytelling that really is a pretty wild stretch to suspend disbelief.
I don't know the science of the Methane (Fire Ice), but again it strikes me as being credible. These books almost seem to take their cue from some of the countless ships that Mr. Cussler has located in real life, and which history will always owe him a debt. This story has a tragic event, but unlike many of the Pitt series the results are far less dramatic and flamboyant. Austin certainly enjoys the beautiful woman that NUMA scientists seem to have a knack for finding wherever they go, but again it is toned down quite a bit.
Whether on his own or in collaboration with another author, if a book has Cussler's name on it you invariable get your money's worth. He is a great teller of tales, and knowledgeable of history, a combination that guaranties good books. This is really escapist fiction at its best. And for those who enjoy the non fiction work of Cussler and his search for old ships there is a second installment of that book on the way as well.