Clive Cussler The Corsican Shadow (Dirk Pitt Adventure)
Another breathless joyride from the Cussler family. Longtime fans of Clive Cussler will be happy to see that son Dirk has followed his father’s template of nonstop action, endless surprises, and characters that jump off the page. It all starts in the prologue.
It's 1940. Normandy, France. World War II is ramping up. Marcel DeMille, Chief Curator of the Musee de L’Aramee in Paris, hurries to the port city of LeHavre, his journey hampered by throngs of refugees fleeing a German invasion. DeMille is anxious to reach the harbor where a ship is waiting to take precious museum pieces to safety out of the hands of the invaders.
Or so he thought.
Instead, when he arrives the harbormaster tells him the scheduled ship has been sunk by the enemy. However, another ship is available and it's due to leave straightaway. With no other choice, DeMille agrees to hire the substitute vessel.
While crewmen load the curator’s cargo, an enemy warplane soars overhead dropping bombs on the harbor. A severely injured man implores DeMille to take his two cases aboard along with the museum crate. DeMille agrees. He grabs the man’s cases and tosses them in the crate just as the ship is pulling away.
Fast forward to April 2025.
Dirk Pitt, Director of the National Underwater and Marine Agency, is at sea with his devoted team of geologists, oceanographers, and marine biologists. They're mapping underwater volcanoes and searching for World War II wrecks in the South Atlantic.
While diving for a piece of camera equipment that accidentally fell overboard, the team discovers a shipwreck grounded in the seabed.
"It wasn't a large vessel, maybe forty meters long, Pitt estimated. Its decayed state indicated it had been a resident of the seabed for many decades. Though covered with silt and concretions, Pitt could tell it was a ferryboat, for the remains of two rusty sedans appeared on its single open deck."
Through the murk, Pitt spies two silt covered metal valises on the deck of the submerged wreck. He retrieves them and swims up to his research ship.
Back on board, he carefully pries open the cases and finds water-logged documents, and a fistful of uncut diamonds. On the crew's first night back on shore, they are awakened by a commotion. Someone has murdered the ship's captain and taken the diamonds. When Pitt sees a vehicle speeding away out of the parking lot, he and crewmate Al Giordino take off after the thief.
And so begins a breathless car chase that doesn't end well for Pitt and Giordino. They are captured by treacherous men who tie Pitt's hands onto the steering wheel of a truck loaded with explosives forcing them to become suicide bombers.
"In the cargo bay, Pitt and Giordino were bumped and jostled as one of the commandos dug through the stacked crates and placed a timed detonator inside a lower container. The boxes were restacked and then the two captives were freed from their seats and dragged out of the truck. Still blinded by their turned balaclavas, Pitt and Giordino were led to the front of the truck. Pitt was forced to climb into the driver's seat, while Giordino was shoved into the passenger seat and buckled in. A roll of tape was used to bind each man's ankles together."
The danger quickly escalates in this fast-paced story full of fascinating characters. But readers needn't worry about losing track of who is who as the plot plunges forward. The author has thoughtfully provided a cast of characters list that names and identifies each one. Their interesting backstories provide the kind of depth and realism that keeps readers turning pages. Cussler also names and identifies each vessel.
Throughout the book, Dirk Cussler matches his father’s compelling storytelling skills that seem to insert the reader directly into the action by describing every setting and every scene in just enough penetrating detail without interrupting the pace of the action.
"He had less than three minutes to find the second drum, filled with radioactive waste, waiting to explode. He looked from the landing in the direction he had come. Had he traveled in a straight line? Which pillars had he bumped into? It was all a blur, one he didn't have time to analyze.
"He climbed over the rail, dove into the water, and swam in the basic direction he'd started from. At ten yards out, he took a deep breath and kicked to the bottom.
"Whatever ambient light existed on the surface promptly vanished, forcing Dirk to see with his hands. He reached the bottom three meters below and kicked along it, his arms groping ahead and to the sides.
"He bounced from pillar to pillar until his breath ran out and he surfaced for air. After a few quick breaths, he returned to the bottom and resumed his blind search. The cold and fatigue began to wear on him and shortened his time underwater."
The Corsican Shadow is sure-fire Cussler-style entertainment.