Book Number Two in the Isaac Bell series, The Wrecker takes Cussler’s readers back in time once more to the turn of the 20th Century. While the West Coast thrives in own wild way, railroad men across the country fight for the longest lines, the strongest books, and fullest pockets. Meanwhile, an unknown saboteur and anarchist seeks to derail the largest conglomerate of all, the Southern Pacific. Soon Isaac Bell, the famed detective from the Van Dorn Detective Agency, is hot on his trail, and there’s no telling what scrapes he’ll endure before he’s able to close this case once and for all.
Several things I really enjoyed about this particular book were the bits of gritty wisdom and the high-stakes card game Bell endures aboard a moving train with a carload of wealthy potential suspects. The bits of wisdom are these, quoted from chapters 7 and 10:
“Bloody noses are a sure sign of progress. You know you’re close when you quarry pokes you in the snoot.”
“You can’t think when you’re mad, and that goes double when you’re mad at yourself.”
The card game is one of the best I’ve ever read, not simply for its high stakes (which admittedly became unreasonably high by the end), but for the way it all unfolds to reveal a battle of wits between two evenly matched, stubborn, life-and-limb type of characters. I could read that portion again and again, and probably still feel my heart try to match the speed of the train as I wait for the men to lay down.
Judging by Cussler’s Epilogue to The Wrecker, this sort-of-sequel to The Chase could have been a full series of books in its own right. Why he chose to conclude this way, I’m not sure. The only reason I can imagine is that Clive Cussler is just so brimming with convoluted plotlines for his many lead characters that he simply doesn’t have the time or the patience for a long, drawn-out series starring the same villains over and again.
“Wouldn’t that be nice!” we writers all sing in chorus.