“I’ll take a team of smart people over a lone genius any day.” (Juan Carbillo)
Book 10 in Cussler’s second-best series, The OREGON Files, brings to the table a number of aspects unique to the author, fit comfortably inside his tried-and-true standard plot structure. In Piranha, a rogue genius has faked his death in order to secretly build and use a device so powerful it would allow him to create and destroy kings and all but rule the world.
The book starts off innocently enough: the Oregon puttering into some port under another vessel’s name, Juan Cabrillo disguising himself as an alcoholic slob of a captain, and their ruse seeming to convince yet another harbor captain that they are who they really aren’t. But then things get interesting, when their trick is discovered by a corrupt Venezuelan Admiral, and the crew’s lives are immediately put on the line. Generally I feel like skimming the first few pages of an Oregon tale, because it always ends up being about the same. But when I hit this point in Piranha, I was suddenly hooked.
In its earliest chapters, Piranha appears to be one of Cussler’s more believable—or at least potentially possible—plots. A corrupt Admiral with political aspiration seeks to sink her key political adversary by secretly wrecking ships in his cargo line, so that he inevitably loses his insurance and heads into bankruptcy. Really quite plausible! But things don’t remain this mild for long, as this Admiral appears to have knowledge about Juan Cabrillo and his crew that no human on earth could ever have. And so breaks out the true storyline of Piranha and her power-hungry genius with his infernal all-seeing eye.
As Cusslers go, this one eventually got into the almost paranormal, but was grounded to earth by daring rescues and hard-fought gunfights. This is an exciting book and fitting addition to the series.