Another super Cussler fun read fit for a lazy weekend.

HAVANA STORM

In a quest connecting Aztecs, the Spanish-American War and boatloads of modern villains, Cussler pater et filius (Poseidon’s Arrow, 2012, etc.) chronicle another adventure of the venerable Dirk Pitt, chief of the National Underwater and Marine Agency. 

Cussler addicts crave action, and the authors deal it out liberally. In the first 200 pages, there’s a flashback to the 1898 sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor; innocent Jamaican fishermen are vaporized; one of Castro’s ministers is assassinated; three oil workers are trapped in a deep-water diving bell; an oil exploration ship is sunk; and Dirk and Summer, children of Dirk the elder, confront danger with derring-do in Mexico as they seek clues to an ancient Aztec codex. Cussler’s regulars are on hand, including Al Giordino, Dirk’s number two, with “the burly build of a professional wrestler combined with the toughness of an elder crocodile.” Chief villains are two, both greedy Cuban commies. Gen. Alberto Gutier has political ambitions, and he’s charged ruthless Juan Díaz with financing those ambitions via rogue deep-sea mining. Díaz dupes the CEO of a Canadian mining company, an enlightened, environmentally conscious fellow who’s a bad judge of business partners, into providing the high-tech equipment. However, Díaz’s explorations vent mercury into pristine tropical waters, and that attracts NUMA’s attention. Descriptive flourishes, such as “he raised him off the floor and ground his teeth in the man’s face,” sometimes clank, and there’s a plot hole or two as ships sail around the Caribbean setting off explosions that register as seismic events. The other half of the Aztec codex—road map to riches—is found after a bit of crafty research, requiring more undersea work, descriptions of which are Cussler’s forte. Few read Cussler for literary nuance and protagonists steeped in irony, but Pitt and company are the stuff of heroic dreams: beautiful and high-minded and generous rich folks with cutting-edge technology and ample time to save the world. 

Another super Cussler fun read fit for a lazy weekend.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-17292-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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