Clive Cussler is the author of more than fifty books in five bestselling series, including Dirk Pitt, NUMA Files, Oregon Files, Isaac Bell, and Fargo. His life nearly parallels that of his hero Dirk Pitt. Whether searching for lost aircraft or leading expeditions to find famous shipwrecks, he and his NUMA crew of volunteers have discovered more than seventy-five lost ships of historic significance, including the long-lost Confederate submarine Hunley, which was raised in 2000 with much press publicity. Like Pitt, Cussler collects classic automobiles. His collection features more than eighty examples of custom coachwork. Cussler lives in Arizona and Colorado.
Dirk Pitt takes a vacation and Cussler gives us Isaac Bell, a detective with the Van Dorn Agency operating in the early years of the 20th century. This New York Times best seller begins with a contemporary discovery of an old railroad engine in a Montana lake and then takes listeners back to a time when the West was in its last throes of being considered "wild." Isaac is on the trail of a murderous bank robber who has earned the nickname "The Butcher Bandit" because of his habit of killing everyone who might be a potential witness. After an abortive attempt to lure the robber to Telluride, CO, Isaac comes into possession of clues that leads him to believe that the robber might indeed be another banker and that he might reside in San Francisco. The tale is typical Cussler, and while his florid prose might be the literary equivalent of warm milk, he is dependable and presents a darn good adventure story with plenty of twists, bad guys, and breathtaking action. Scott Brick does his usual outstanding job of narrating, not in a monotonous recitation but in a slow, almost laconic manner that captures the listener's attention even when characters "hiss" and "snarl" and villains are referred to as "dastardly." Cussler fans will welcome the arrival of Isaac, the new hero on the block, even as they await the next Dirk Pitt novel. Recommended.--Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Cussler takes a breather from his several ongoing series with this historical thriller set in the western states, circa 1906. The U.S. government hires the renowned Van Dorn Detective Agency and its equally renowned lead agent, Isaac Bell, to capture the bank robber known as the Butcher Bandit. The Butcher has gunned down 38 men and women and two children, leaving behind neither witnesses nor clues. Bell heads the manhunt and finally figures out the Butcher's true identity, which is when the real chase begins. Unfortunately, Cussler's style is patterned on the clunky dialogue ("I pray you catch the murdering scum") and improbable characters of the period's dime novels, and his in-depth research makes his descriptions sound like advertising. Once San Francisco gets hit by the 1906 earthquake and the principals climb aboard a pair of fire-breathing locomotives, the novel cranks up a head of steam and some high-speed thrills. (Nov.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.