This audio book carried me from the ethnic streets of Seattle, WA, three days east, to my home in the dead-center of the American Midwest. Across the still-frozen plains of Montana, I was hoping to fill my imagination with the deep-sea adventures that always make Cussler’s novels so unique, but was surprised to find that vast majority of the action in this Oregon File takes place on land, much of it in the Middle East, which I assume looks somewhat like the rugged landscapes that zipped past my windows. No worries, though, as the storyline was captivating and it made the miles slide on by.
What differentiates most Oregon File installments from Cussler’s other series is the emphasis on the ship’s crew whose major character-centered roles often intertwine tightly with the plots. Sacred Stone is no exception to this rule, though the series’ first book, Golden Buddha, focuses almost entirely on the functions of the ship rather than on the personalities of the crew. Because Sacred Stone takes place almost entirely on the land, The Oregon itself seems distinctly absent from this particular plot, though the shift might have been the idea of co-author, Craig Dirgo, rather than Cussler himself. If I can in fact blame Dirgo for the adjustment, then I’d also like to blame him for the excessive cursing that seemed to creep into this book, something Cussler normally doesn’t include.
Plot-wise, this story was unique in that Islam plays a major role—perhaps the first time I’ve seen that in any Cussler novel—though not in the radical terrorism way that you might expect. In fact, the authors manage to maintain the ever-faithful angry-rich-guy-desires-to-destroy-the-world structure that fits into any situation, any setting, and with any of Cussler’s protagonists. You’ve got to admire his ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it approach to writing that kept him going for so long. I never tire of it! Overall, I found Sacred Stone highly entertaining, though I think Dirgo added just too much detail in some places that really slow a fast-moving plot down in places. I enjoy The Oregon Files immensely, though I still don’t think they can stand up to anything with Dirk Pitt. He’s just too cool.