More farfetched doings for Dirk Pitt, director of special projects at the National Underwater and Marine Agency—starting, circa 1989, when people start dropping horribly dead in Alaskan waters: somehow, it seems, ultrasecret Nerve Agent S has been leaking into the sea up there! ("One teaspoon will kill every living organism in four million gallons of seawater.") So Dirk and his crew head north and manage to find the source of the killer-pollution in a sunken ship. But how did the poison (stolen from a US Army dumping ground in Nevada) wind up on that ship? And why do clues aboard the sunken vessel connect to other lost mystery-ships? Those are the puzzles for Dirk, who, ignited by the Nerve Agent death of colleague Julie Mendoza (her protective suit got torn during a volcano), determines to track down the villains behind it all. But meanwhile those villains—a Fu Manchu-ish corporation headed by an aged Dragon Lady—are up to even more diabolical schemes. In cahoots with the USSR, you see, the evil Orientals have arranged for the US Prez and VP to be abducted from the Presidential yacht in the Potomac! Why? So that the Russians can give the Prez a super-brainwashing—just your basic injection of RNA into the hippocampus, plus a nifty brain implant. Before the President suddenly reappears, however, claiming to have been engaged in a super-summit meeting, Dirk has again been called into emergency action: he locates the sunken yacht, figuring out how the magical abduction was arranged. And after the thoroughly re-brained Prez behaves so weirdly that he gets impeached, there'll be still another major mission for Cussler's indefatigable hero: Dirk must find and rescue the still-missing VP before slimy Speaker of the House Alan Moran (a tool of the Oriental conspiracy) takes over the White House. The villains repeatedly try to kill Dirk; congresswoman Loren, Dirk's love, gets abducted when she tries to lend a hand; the bad guys fight among themselves; nautical, explosive rescues and showdowns proliferate. In short: more of the same from unpretentious, hard-working actioneer Cussler—with faceless characters, loopy plotting, solid techno-detail, and (this time) more than a glimmer of Yellow Peril racism.

Pub Date: May 21, 1984

ISBN: 1416516859

Page Count: 545

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1984

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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