I entered Havana Storm as excited about a novel as I’ve ever been. Ever since I began reading Clive Cussler back in 2009-ish, I’ve been playing catch-up on all the series. Books new to me were actually decades old, so while I could call myself a “fan,” I could never be a “follower.” Well that changed when I finally got caught up on The Dirk Pitt Adventures, Cussler’s first and arguably his best. So this being my first opportunity to actually look forward to a “next installment,” I relished the waiting period. I can say “relish,” because unlike the waiting period prior to the “season premier” of a TV series, I don’t feel like I’ve been cliff-hanging all summer. Cussler rarely leaves a reader with questions or concerns, which for this genre is all right by me.
In Havana Storm (book 23 in the series, if you’re wondering), I was finally drawn into the subplots of Dir Pitt’s twin adventurers, Summer and Dirk Jr., something I had been generally antagonistic towards during the last several books. “Gimme Pitt-and-Giordino or nothing,” I had concluded. Now, however, I recognize that Dirk and Al have been hounding the globe for roughly 40 years, and nearly any adventure the Cusslers throws at them would have to seem far-fetched at best. Geriatrics aren’t generally meant to be our nation’s first line of defense against the evil concoctions of the current nemesis to humanity. Finally I’ve come to agree that perhaps it’s better to leave saving-the-world in the hands of Pitt’s handsome twins. After annoying me through six books, their scrapes and adventures have finally padded their resumes enough for me. A far advance beyond Trojan Odyssey!
While it was great to see St. Julien Perlmutter again and to hear a short piece about The Oregon, this book differed than many of Cussler’s due to its lack of variety. None of the characters (except, surprisingly, the 400lb. St. Julien!) travel very far, keeping almost exclusively on the waters and islands of the Caribbean, most specifically Jamaica and Cuba.
Now, regarding Cuba’s role in the book (supremely optimistic by the end, not much unlike tomorrow’s true headlines, I suppose), I have to ask again: What’s Cussler’s apparent love affair with Communist countries? The governments themselves are not only “never the bad guys,” but they almost always wind up allying with NUMA and the United States government! Granted, Dirk Pitt once escaped the coasts of Communist Cuba in a bathtub fitted with an outboard motor, and North Korea is always an enemy, but elsewhere the Communists have been pictured as rather kind. Consider for a moment Kurt Austin’s Soviet-nemesis-turned friend; the PRC’s help in stopping a global pandemic in Medusa, and now brother Castro’s budding bro-mance with Vice President Sandecker. These are just a few examples, but keep your eye out for this interesting, optimistic tick of Cussler’s.
I don’t know how many more adventures Dirk Pitt (or Clive Cussler, for that matter) has in him, but I’m relishing once more a period of wairing the next Pitt adventure, though nothing’s been slated. In the meantime, I’m actually considering going through them all again…just for posterity’s sake. Maybe.