Juan Cabrillo and the Oregon’s crew are imperiled by Filipino communist guerrillas armed with deadly aquatic drones in Cussler and long-time co-writer Morrison's (The Emperor's Revenge, 2016, etc.) latest spy-ship adventure.
Owned by the Corporation, which conducts missions for the CIA and is led by ex–CIA operative Langston Overholt IV, the Oregon looks like a derelict freighter but is powered by magnetohydrodynamic engines and carries exotic weaponry like Exocet missiles and a 120mm cannon. The ship is in the Pacific when Cabrillo's called to find a top-secret thumb drive sought by both the Ghost Dragon triad and the Chinese Ministry of State Security. That problem solved, Cabrillo and crew are told Salvador Locsin, the communist New People’s Army chief in the Philippines, has uncovered a lost Imperial Japanese WWII–era superdrug, Typhoon, developed from an exotic Philippine orchid. Typhoon is said to generate superhuman strength and provide "quick blood clotting and accelerated tissue regeneration,” sure to trigger chaos if it gets into the wrong hands. Cussler and Morrison’s superfast scene shifting via dozens of short chapters means tighten your seat belts, because the narrative never slows. Purloined art by Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Raphael, Gauguin, and Cezanne bankrolls the assorted communist enterprises. Locsin is also searching for the WWII sunken ship USS Pearsall, which was carrying barrels of Typhoon. Were Americans tied to the killer drug? Or was it another of the “obscene medical experiments” of the Imperial Army's nefarious Unit 731? Along the way, the Oregon is imperiled by Locsin's just-add-water drone, the "the size and shape of a Jet Ski" with a "hundred pounds of Semtex inside." A good portion of the book's first half is scene-setting, then Cabrillo and company pull out the M-4s and Glocks and start settling scores. Corregidor's abandoned WWII tunnels and isolated Philippine jungle islands provide the background, but there's zero character development and much macho, self-referential, and repartee-laden dialogue.
Cussler and Morrison will always entertain when you're tired of binge-watching TV action shows.