This being the first installment to Clive Cussler’s The Oregon Files, it took me a little while to get used to Juan Cabrillo and his whole team of former intelligence masters as they wreak havoc on the world’s evil forces from the deck of their super-ship, The Oregon. Setting the vast majority of this book at a dinner party, however, was a stroke of genius by the authors, because it gave me plenty of opportunity to befriend the characters and learn their quirks, without all the convoluted and around-the-globe plot confusions that otherwise make Cussler’s books so exciting.
The story of Golden Buddha pits the Dalai Lama of Tibet against the political forces of China and Russia, using a closely guarded golden artifact as the key to Tibet’s independence. Cabrillo’s “Corporation” is a refreshingly diverse group of characters, though it seems their expertise comes a bit too close to perfection, and their specially-outfitted ship proves to be impossibly limitless. Part of Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino’s appeal has always been their inevitable missteps and close scrapes, where the reader thinks, “Now how in the world are they going to get out of this one!?” (a particular Cuban bathtub fitted with an outboard motor comes to mind). Giordino always gets shot; Pitt always gets captured; yet their struggles also always keep the pace of the story moving. Setbacks simply didn’t exist for The Corporation in Golden Buddha, but it’s only the first installment for them, and I’m sure they’ll get theirs eventually.
Overall, the book was exciting and The Oregon crew will be a good group of people to learn more about as the books progress. It’s doubtful I’ll ever get to review all the Cusslers I’ve read in the past (probably a good thing, since they’d all end up sounding the same over time…much like a Cussler novel!), but this one stuck out as a worthwhile entrance into another great series.