To anyone who has ever read Clive Cussler‘s Deep Six before—be it only yesterday or when it was hot off the presses 31 years ago—I ask this simple question: “Which image from this tale has been most imprinted onto your brain for all these years?” [Spoiler alert] Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I bet, the answer would involve the book’s final scene, when hero Dirk Pitt shoves a little old Korean lady and her wheelchair down an empty, hundred-story elevator shaft. What a shocker! Not too many authors risk tarnishing their lead character’s reputation by involving him in such shenanigans, but by now—by the end of Book 7 in the Dirk Pitt Adventures—it seems that Cussler has simply resigned himself to recording the laissez-faire attitude his hero brings to the plots. It’s as if Dirk Pitt has finally grown into a tangible person, and faithful readers like me are now able to sense in the air his predictably unpredictable behavior, so that scenes like this—while shocking—are not all that surprising.
Deep Six is Cussler’s first book of many since Pacific Vortex whose plot dips dangerously into the “ridiculous” category, involving such plot points as the kidnapping of the President along the next three in line for the Presidency and brain manipulation via implanted micro-transmitters. The Russians are again to blame, this time with help from a greedy Korean family, though this story is set in the late 80s, right when the USSR actually fell.
What makes this particular book interesting is the introduction of a few long-time characters that all fans eventually grow to love. St. Julien Pearlmutter, the 400-pound gourmand who owns the largest collection in the world of works regarding maritime history, enters this story in order to give Dirk Pitt a hand in unraveling a maritime mystery. Hiram Jaeger also appears, the pony-tail-wearing hippie who’s a wiz at the computer, though this early on in the Cussler universe, he must use his brain a whole lot more than his advanced processor. Lauren Smith also joins the tale again, this time as a curious and determined congresswoman who just can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Her “on again, off again affair with Dir Pitt” hasn’t seemed to have hurt her political career at all, and I think that now we’ll start seeing a whole lot more of her.
Overall, I enjoyed this tale. I’m just getting a little leery of the upcoming books, which I know are going to venture even deeper into the ridiculous (1990s), before scratching the belly of the just-plain-dumb (2000s), before finally getting back into the fantastic (recent years). That’s not a hard-fast rule of course, and I might be mistaken, but it’s what my recollection of having read these books within the past decade tells me. Hope I’m wrong!