Cussler and Du Brul circle back to Cussler’s Raise the Titanic (1976) in the latest derring-do adventure featuring Isaac Bell (The Cutthroat, 2017).
Dirk Pitt of the National Underwater and Marine Agency bookends the tale with the prologue and epilogue, but the story belongs to Bell. In the present day, Pitt discovers the diary of the Van Dorn Detective Agency’s top investigator, “perhaps the greatest detective of his—or any—generation.” Pitt reads that in 1911, Bell was hired to find out whether nine men have faked their deaths in the Little Angel mine disaster in Colorado. Then he’s hired to help the miner Joshua Hayes Brewster smuggle a thousand pounds of the ore of “a rare element called byzanium” to the United States from Novaya Zemlya, the “hellhole” island in the Russian arctic where the miners really are. But not so fast—people are already trying to kill Bell before he leaves Colorado. Once safely across the pond, he hires an Icelandic whaling skipper who knows how to navigate the deadly ice floes to bring him to a desolate Russian mine and return everyone and the ore to Scotland and ultimately to America. On the island, Bell finds eight desperately ill men who appear “not unlike the dead” because the mineral is radioactive. But it’s worth more than $1 million per ounce and has unknown and possibly great potential. Meanwhile, that round trip is no day in a dinghy. Bell blows up icebergs to avoid being icebound, wards off a 10-foot-tall polar bear, parries attacks from a French vessel, and deals with fire, betrayal, and plenty of murder. He deals with one disaster after another with smarts, bravery, loyalty, honesty, and no small amount of luck. When it’s all over, he wants to return to his dear wife, Marion, in America, but business before pleasure. And yes, all of this connects to the Titanic in the title.
The fun begins with the prologue and doesn’t stop till the end. Too bad the heroes can never meet.