Another super Cussler fun read fit for a lazy weekend.

HAVANA STORM

In a quest connecting Aztecs, the Spanish-American War and boatloads of modern villains, Cussler pater et filius (Poseidon’s Arrow, 2012, etc.) chronicle another adventure of the venerable Dirk Pitt, chief of the National Underwater and Marine Agency. 

Cussler addicts crave action, and the authors deal it out liberally. In the first 200 pages, there’s a flashback to the 1898 sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor; innocent Jamaican fishermen are vaporized; one of Castro’s ministers is assassinated; three oil workers are trapped in a deep-water diving bell; an oil exploration ship is sunk; and Dirk and Summer, children of Dirk the elder, confront danger with derring-do in Mexico as they seek clues to an ancient Aztec codex. Cussler’s regulars are on hand, including Al Giordino, Dirk’s number two, with “the burly build of a professional wrestler combined with the toughness of an elder crocodile.” Chief villains are two, both greedy Cuban commies. Gen. Alberto Gutier has political ambitions, and he’s charged ruthless Juan Díaz with financing those ambitions via rogue deep-sea mining. Díaz dupes the CEO of a Canadian mining company, an enlightened, environmentally conscious fellow who’s a bad judge of business partners, into providing the high-tech equipment. However, Díaz’s explorations vent mercury into pristine tropical waters, and that attracts NUMA’s attention. Descriptive flourishes, such as “he raised him off the floor and ground his teeth in the man’s face,” sometimes clank, and there’s a plot hole or two as ships sail around the Caribbean setting off explosions that register as seismic events. The other half of the Aztec codex—road map to riches—is found after a bit of crafty research, requiring more undersea work, descriptions of which are Cussler’s forte. Few read Cussler for literary nuance and protagonists steeped in irony, but Pitt and company are the stuff of heroic dreams: beautiful and high-minded and generous rich folks with cutting-edge technology and ample time to save the world. 

Another super Cussler fun read fit for a lazy weekend.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-17292-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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KILLING FLOOR

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 1

Welcome to Margrave, Georgia—but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both. There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend, who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long-dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother Joe, whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personally against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive. Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust—a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed—he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of- towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage, or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments—not that there are many of them to judge by. Despite the crude, tough-naif narration, debut novelist Child serves up a big, rangy plot, menace as palpable as a ticking bomb, and enough battered corpses to make an undertaker grin.

Pub Date: March 17, 1997

ISBN: 0-399-14253-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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