Hate to say it. I’ve been a Clive Cussler fan for years, but this book has been his worst yet—even out-crapping Black Wind, the Dirk Pitt Adventure which sidelines the hero throughout most of the book in favor of his snarky kids—and I couldn’t handle it any longer. It’s bad for a number of reasons, which I’ll enumerate in an open letter to Cussler now.
First and most importantly, the double-hip-replacement. I mean seriously: you’re an aging author writing about forty-something adventurists who never seem to age, appealing generally to adventure-curious men from across the age-spectrum, and a large percentage of your book is dedicated to a female co-stars hip replacement? Clive, my dear man! While your age and many years of grey-headedness can be awesome for the wisdom and experience they offer as “authorial perspective”, you ought to have wondered during your brainstorming sessions: “What’s the one thing about being old that I shouldn’t include in my adventure novels?” Any of your colleagues would probably have replied, “Depends,” but then eventually they’d all settle on “hip-replacement surgery.” With as much time as you spend talking about the pain of Selma’s ordeal and the concern it causes her loved ones, I can’t help but figure that your new co-author, Russel Blake, is a nonagenarian version of Nicholas Sparks.
Secondly, the disproportionate attention given to relationships over pure adventure. Had you removed all the action and interesting scenes from the first thirteen chapters of this book, you would have been left with only twelve and half chapters of sentimental hogwash, just meaty with old-folk-home chitchat. That’s not what I—or any other fan, for that matter—am looking for when I pick up an adventure novel.
Third, the incessant barrage of fancy restaurants and all-day spas. Clive, we appreciate that you’ve visited some of these locations as research for your books, but we don’t care what out-of-our-range fare you ate while there, or what bottle of wine you drank alongside it. “Realism” in an adventure novel isn’t the description of the stucco walls inside the fancy hotel you stayed in while visiting Mexico. It’s the sound of bones scraping across the pavement under a skidding, overturned car. Get back to the “adventure” portions of the adventure novels that made you famous, and leave this romantic nonsense behind.
Fourth, the complete departure from an otherwise fine story line. Here we have two treasure hunters on a scientific assignment who accidentally find the most perfectly preserved Viking ship ever discovered—fit with a crew of ten frozen Vikings to boot—and you use it as merely a jumping-off point to take us to Cuba and yet another search for quetzalcoatl? What a missed opportunity! There’s an entire novel set somewhere in the far reaches of northern Europe completely wasted.
Fifth, the apparent disconnect between series. I can recall offhand two great Dirk Pitt Adventures (not to mention other books from other series that I’m forgetting) that find their settings inside Cuba, and yet there isn’t a single mention of anything that occurred in those other stories. If you want us to believe in your books, you need to create a universe that remains consistent across the boards. Why can’t Sam and Remi Fargo ever bump into Dirk Pitt or Kurt Austin, instead of this mysterious van-dyke-goateed man at all points of the globe?
While I imagine that you wrote this book with your wife in mind, it fails to meet the demands of your readers. I’ve not been very impressed with the Fargo Adventures series, so it’s too bad there are at least two others forthcoming, The Solomon Curse and Pirate. I just can’t imagine I’ll enjoy them as much as I will the next books in any of the other series.