Having recently finished Book 4 in the Isaac Bell Series, The Race, and having loved it, I was very excited to see this book open on board the Mauritania bound for New York Harbor, because it offered the possibility of something unique. Just as The Race had offered a new style for Clive Cussler, one that followed a single event from start to finish, from one side of the Continent to the next, it appeared that The Thief might do something similar, only this time proposing a simple four-day mystery on a cruise through the Atlantic without a chance of escape.
Sadly, however, this wasn’t the case. While Bell and his new bride remained aboard the ship for several chapters, the story eventually returned to America and became yet another multi-faceted adventure where the villains and their issues were made clear from pretty much the outset. Once again, Cussler and Scott missed an opportunity to provide a tantalizing “Whodunit?” within their otherwise exciting story-line, denying that deeper-level connection many readers desire.
Because this story returned to Cussler’s general fare, I lost interest halfway through. I didn’t love any of the supporting characters—though the young German girl with Detective Curtis in Berlin could have been a great detour, if used a bit more often. I quit reading about a month ago and only just finished on audio when I found myself facing a lonely 5-hour drive.
The German General villain was interesting enough and as unbelievable as Cussler’s most memorable villains, a monkey-looking man with abnormally long arms and superhuman strength—despite his age—who was known by those who feared him as “The Acrobat.” His disguise as a sales rep for a German piano manufacturer lent itself to an interesting subplot on early 20th century marketing schemes, which I found interesting.
I was also interested to see Thomas Edison play a fairly important role in this story, though I wonder if he was as much a jerk in real life as Cussler and Scott make him out to be! This wasn’t my favorite Bell novel, and I think I’ll take a break from the Van Dorn Detective for a bit. Perhaps a Fargo Adventure is next on my docket.