Cussler and Du Brul (The Jungle, 2011, etc.) draw another adventure from The Oregon Files.
The book opens with a James Bond action sequence. Disguised as a mobster, Juan Cabrillo infiltrates a Siberian prison intending to engineer Adm. Yuri Borodin’s escape, courtesy of C-4 secreted in an artificial leg. Bang! Next comes a high-tension rope ride from a remotely piloted chopper to a souped-up snowmobile. It’s a $25 million payoff, but Borodin ends up dead. The admiral’s last words—"Aral....Eerie boat....Tesla"—send Cabrillo down a dangerous trail. Borodin was imprisoned by a corrupt Russian admiral, Pytor Kenin, and apparently, Kenin’s up to no good in Uzbekistan. Cabrillo’s chairman of the Corporation, the go-anywhere, get-it-done CIA-style group on call when things go off kilter. The Corporation’s headquarters is the Oregon, a seemingly derelict freighter secretly equipped with everything from military-grade weapons and electronics to magnetohydrodynmic engines and an English butler. With shootouts, knife fights and supertech spying, Cabrillo and company battle from the Aral Sea to the U.S., there discovering a wreck that was George Westinghouse’s yacht. It disappeared more than a century ago while participating in an experiment carried out by Westinghouse’s friend, the eccentric genius Nikola Tesla. With a detour to rescue a billion dollars of purloined Iraqi aid money being smuggled to Indonesia—a book-worthy story itself—the slam-bang action sails along, pausing occasionally to introduce characters forgettable—technogeek or ex-military Oregon crew members—and memorable—L’Enfant; the horribly burn-scarred criminal Mr. Fixit. Cabrillo and company confront assassins, torpedo duels and undersea rescues, decipher Tesla’s invention of an optical cloaking device and then battle the Serb genius’ weaponized technology. That means destroying the Tesla-based device-equipped stealth ship tasked to sink an U.S. aircraft carrier en route to prevent Chinese-Japanese hostilities over islands sitting atop an oil patch.
Above-average action from Cussler.