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Weak writing and characterisation hides quite a good plot
on 8 December 2012
Dirk Pitt is back for yet another adventure on the high seas. It's amazing how fit the character still is and how much he can get up to despite his increasing age. This story sees the NUMA team called upon by the US government to help raise a small boat with a secret cargo, but they aren't the only ones after it.
The plot is, at heart, surprisingly plausible - the technology, while futuristic, is believable and shows no sign of the sci-fi or fantasy influence that has troubled recent books in the Cussler series. Where it does fall apart though is in the detail of the narrative. The story wades slowly along, pushed by sudden boosts of action that were so unthrilling that I found my mind wandering and ending up on the other side of one with no idea how it got there. At worst, I had to go back several pages before I found something I remembered happening - this is not the sign of a gripping read.
The baddies are surprisingly well constructed, and their motivations and capabilities are perfectly believable, however some of the other guest characters felt underdeveloped and inconsistent. The female lead, an investigator for a government agency and introduced to us as a former US marine, then turns out to be a scaredy cat and no use in a fight. There were a number of points where I found the book to be quite sexist and I was disappointed with the poor showing in this regard.
For me, this was one of the weaker books in the series - but for once because of the writing rather than the plot. I'm afraid I can't say I recommend it.