Ninth installment in the Dirk Pitt ocean-bottom salvage saga (Raise the Titanic, Cyclops, Treasure), with a dramatic upgrading in the writing. This time out, Cussler keeps a tight plot under a favoring wind and does not fill out his 416 pages with a surplus of subplots—though, to be sure, the story builds on Saturday-matinee cliffhangers and has the usual aircraft blueprints, as well as the Cussler clangor of underwater hardware, for bolting down fantasy. (A character barely picks up a telephone without our getting its specs, including holographics—we're into 1993—and distant speakers facing each other in 3-D.) The story: In 1945, a third plane carrying an atomic bomb to Japan is shot down and sinks off a Japanese island. The waterproof bomb lies down there for 50 years. In 1993, Dirk Pitt mines the sea-bottom with a colossal submersible tractor near the lost plane when a huge Japanese automobile-carrying cargo ship miles above him blows up, destroying two other ships nearby. It seems that a secret Japanese crime cartel, set on raising Japan to world trade dominance starting with a takeover of the US, has been making A-bombs. Lacking missiles, the cartel smuggles its small A-bombs in Japanese automobiles into various US cities and is now ready to blackmail the President for their big takeover. The cartel works out of Dragon Center, the island near where the US A-bomb sank. Dirk Pitt, now drawn into a US secret agency for locating the Japanese bombs (the cartel explodes one bomb in Wyoming for demonstration purposes), is given a new submersible tractor, since his last was destroyed in the accidental A-bomb explosion of the automobile cargo ship, and is sent down to blow up the US bomb in the sunken bomber, thus causing an earthquake and tsunami that will wipe out Dragon Center. Naturally, blowing up an A-bomb poses some threat to Dirk's life—but he does it, and his submersible sinks under a tremendous mudslide into a huge trench. Next we are reading deathproof Dirk's obit. Can he really be. . .? More surpassingly improbable than Indiana Jones, but much fun, crisply told, with exciting special effects. By now, Cussler has spent nearly 5,000 pages mucking around in oceanic blackness. Obsessive?

Pub Date: June 4, 1990

ISBN: 1416537805

Page Count: 609

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1990

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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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