TREASURE

In this latest chapter in the Dirk Pitt saga (Raise the Titanic!, Cyclops)—which finds the recovery mariner seeking a truly mind-boggling treasure—Cussler pumps out yet another preposterous plotboiler with uncappable good cheer. Its cartoon characters speaking in balloons, the story—whether flying or submerged—is much like a Classic Comix version of Jules Verne's novels of fantastic transportation. It begins in antiquity, with Theodosius about to burn the library at Alexandria. A rogue fleet sets sail bearing the cream of the library's artifacts and scrolls, including the complete works of Homer in 27 books and the coffin of Alexander (with the world conqueror himself inside). Many weeks later the ships manage to bury their treasure in a remote land, but all except one of the ships and their crews are lost when attacked by savages (actually Aztecs). The lone ship to escape later freezes in ice near Green-land, its passengers preserved perfectly. Two millenia later, Dirk Pitt discovers the the frozen vessel while looking for a lost Russian nuclear sub under the Arctic ice. Meanwhile, an Islamic terrorist group tries to kill the female Secretary of the United Nations, a beautiful Egyptian, by crashing her jet into the Arctic ice. Not only does Dirk hear the plane go down, so does a group of archaeologists on a nearby island. At the same time, in Mexico, a messianic Aztec has arisen and plans to take over the country. Later, he even invades Texas. A map Dirk finds on the frozen Byzantine ship now leads him to Roma, Texas, since it is clear that the fleeing Alexandrians have sailed up the Rio Grande and buried their loot in a Texas hillside. Does the thoughtful reader now explode with tears of appreciation for such zestful nonsense? Many will, many will!—especially when our hushed President is at last shown the golden casket of Alexander the Great: "The President felt as if he was about to meet God." Titantic. Just titanic.

Pub Date: April 7, 1988

ISBN: 1451621019

Page Count: 678

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1988

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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