Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventures have been my guilty pleasure for several years now. I have read or listened to them in succession from Pitt’s standpoint, from Pacific Vortex! all the way now to Arctic Drift, which I just began this morning. I have not reviewed Cussler’s books on this site, because I do not think people generally care to read reviews on each and every installment of one author’s popular fiction. Perhaps I am wrong. I figure that people either like an author or they don’t. They try him out once, and continue if they are interested, and “Who cares what other people think?” At least that is how things should be.
Treasure of Khan sort of demands a review, however, for several reasons. First and foremost, I think it is the first, classic Dirk Pitt novel to be released by the co-author team of Clive and Dirk Cussler. Now, I am the kind of reader who peruses thrift store bookshelves looking for what is good, so when I found Cussler’s Pacific Vortex! in 2009, I became an immediate fan (despite the fact that Vortex! is actually a rather stilted, two-dimensional thriller that borders on sci-fi). Since then, I have only purchased Cussler’s books used, and, now that I have the full Dirk Pitt library (working on getting all hardcover), I have completed all but two. I mention this to say that I have never followed Pitt News (if there is any) or fan reviews, so I am continually shocked with each developing page, much like a reader would have been twenty years ago before the devil internet came to be. So when Clive and Dirk began writing together, I was a little skeptical about how things might change for Dirk Pitt. My skepticism paid off, becuase in the previous novel, Black Wind, the authors all but killed off the heroes, Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino, in favor of two unknown kid characters with magical charm and abilities. While Dirk, Al, and Lauren might have fallen in love easily with the the surprise twins, Dirk and Summer, I certainly did not. They never had time to grow on me. They showed up on Pitt’s hanger doorstep and took over the whole show like the brats I am sure they are. But in Treasure of Khan, ah, a breath of fresh air! Dirk and Summer have been resigned to a single excavation in Hawaii and an Epilogue, while the real heroes, Dirk, Al, and even Rudy, get all the action and attention. Had the Cusslers worked the twins into the story line this way from their start, they could have built up the kids’ reputations, and I could have learned to appreciate them far more easily. But now, Dirk and Summer have some serious work cut out for them if they want to get my interest finally secured.
Treasure of Khan is also an excellent read, because as a classic Dirk Pitt novel, it contains all the elements required: a fantastic location, a mysterious and evil family, an exciting plot, and wounded heroes who prevail in the end and make some rather timeless discoveries. It may also help that I personally love Asian history, especially the Khans, and the majority of this story is set on the vast, grassy plains of Mongolia.
If you like treasure hunts, nealry immortal heroes, and adventure, you might want to give Clive Cussler’s books a try. You come to love the characters (most of them at least), and, while the corrupt-family-tries-to-rule-the-world is the plot in every Pitt adventure, Cussler’s always got some unexpected twists to keep the reading lively.