This was the second Cussler stories that my weekly elderly charge had me read to him, and the only one of the Dirk Pitt adventures that he hadn’t yet experienced. It was my pleasure to deliver it over the course of a month of Wednesdays. The senior’s village where he’s billeted has at last relaxed their Covid-19 testing requirements so I was able to spend an extra fifteen minutes with the old boy each week and it meant getting through the tale much faster than before.
Cussler’s work fascinates me, as it is the product of his times and the attitudes expressed by the characters always have me stopping to think. The misogyny in particular: there’s a rawness to the relationships between the men and women in the stories that is at once appalling—by today’s standards—and compelling, as historical record.
This was Cussler’s first published novel but the second in the Dirk Pitt saga, and while it possesses a straightforward plot and thin character development it rattles along at a decent, if predictable, clip. It was a great privilege to narrate the book to my charge, and I’m feeling a little obligated to now read the rest of the franchise on my own. Perhaps once I’m done with the Horus Heresy, I’ll make Cussler’s bibliography the soundtrack for my early morning gym sessions.