I had been anticipating what changes in style might come with Cussler’s adjustment in co-authors for this, his 4th installment in the Fargo Adventure series. While I had grown a little bored with the slowing pace of Blackwood‘s writing, and then felt a strong sense of publishing deadlines in The Kingdom, I was really looking forward to some needed change with the transition to Thomas Perry. When it comes right down to style and pacing though, I don’t feel that Perry has turned out all that different a product than Blackwood could have done, and that’s a shame.
In reading The Tombs, I felt a dragging feeling throughout the adventure, a dullness around the edges that ought to have been cleaned up in the editing process. The adventurous plot itself was strong. I enjoyed the progression from tomb to tomb—though admittedly, it got a little ridiculous that this couple was able to reclaim every single treasure, even in the face of all that competition!—and I was glad to learn some history of Attila that I wouldn’t have pursued any other way. But through it all, I felt there was something missing, or rather something added. There seemed to be so many minute and unnecessary details wedged in between those great scenes of gun battles and round-the-world chases: how a guy wakes and prepares for his day, or how a gun chambers a round.
Few readers are picking up The Tombs as their first-ever Cussler attempt, so it seems that if Cussler wanted to please those faithful readers who have followed him this deeply into his writing career, he would have cut out all the unnecessary frills and fluff and given us exactly what we’re hoping for: treasure, guns, sexy cars, ingenious escapes, corrupt families, and—for a blast from the past—the daring hero saving his bleeding sidekick from certain death. All these additions of gourmet dinners and tiptoe kisses on the cheek put the Fargo books into a category that Cussler shouldn’t strive for, artsy-romantic adventure.
The adventurous plot of searching for Attila’s lost tombs throughout Europe kept the story moving along, though at one point—I believe it was after the Fargos stole their third treasure from a boatload of incompetent bad guys—I started wishing that one of them would get kidnapped or seriously injured, just to add that extra spice that was missing to the story. Shortly thereafter, Remi got swiped from a Moscow airport by a couple of “large women,” and I was pleased to know that Cussler could read my thoughts. Her rescue was quick, a matter of two or so chapters, but it provided the requisite bend in the river that made the rest of the book an enjoyable read.
Thomas Perry sort of let me down with The Tombs, and as I notice he co-writes only one more before Cussler again changes writers, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for The Mayan Secrets either. But we’ll see.