The ever-kinetic Cussler brings back Dirk Pitt, who recently discovered the lost continent of Atlantis in Antarctica (Atlantis Found, 1999).
Cussler leaps in with what seem to be wildly parted storylines. Five hundred years before Columbus, Viking ships bearing 200 souls reach North American shores and attempt to set up a lasting colony, but the local natives kill them all except five women. In 1894, the old wooden-hulled warship Kearsarge finds and chases a strange metal monster, which proves to be a pointy-bowed submarine that turns, rams Kearsarge midship, and sinks it. Then, in the year 2003, the fabulous new cruise ship Emerald Dolphin, equipped with revolutionary engines that run on seawater and oil, catches fire while sailing the Caribbean on her maiden voyage. Someone has disabled the sprinkler system as well as the automatic doors designed to seal off the flames. Sighting the disaster from the nearby oceanographic survey vessel Deep Encounter, Dirk Pitt comes to rescue as many as possible of the 2,600 aboard the doomed ship. Then the abandoned Emerald Dolphin abruptly and mysteriously sinks. (“One minute she’s floating high in the water, the next she’s on her way to the bottom . . . ain’t natural,” says one old salt.) Maritime insurers hire Pitt to take Deep Encounter to the lost ship’s grave, send a submersible down 20,000 feet, and investigate the cause of the fire. But the wreck is not there! Later, pirates hijack Deep Encounter and steam off, signing the death warrants of Pitt, sidekick Al Giordino, and marine biologist Misty Graham, who rise in the submersible to find no mother ship in sight. Fortunately, they're rescued by a luxurious modern catamaran on a solo world voyage captained by a crusty old coot named . . . Clive Cussler!!!
Who is in top form here, easily tying together Viking relics, a Confederate submarine, and a lost ship running on seawater as Pitt’s past rises up to claim him.