Clive Cussler is my guilty secret, or at least the guilty secret that relates to books. As a child I spent my reading time alternating between Enid Blyton, Jean Plaidy, Agatha Christie and Clive Cussler (swapping genres even then), rebelling against my Hobbit-addicted father. I still remember devouring Raise the Titanic as a youngster. It could well be the first thriller I ever read, around the time that I saw Jaws at the cinema. No wonder I have no sea legs. Since then, I have read every Dirk Pitt adventure – largely because a hero named Dirk Pitt is irresistible – and I couldn’t name one I haven’t enjoyed. The blend of historical mystery and outlandish, exaggerated adventure, welded together with an abundance of charm and fast cars, boats and planes is extremely appealing. Especially so if, like me, you need a palate cleanser to help you make a smooth transition between novels of different genres and moods.
I may have read every Dirk Pitt novel going but I’m very behind with the other Cussler heroes. I’ve read a couple of the historical Isaac Bell stories, set a century ago in the western US, and the first of the Fargo adventures, but The Storm is the first of the Numa novels I’ve read, even though it’s the tenth of the series. Not that this matters with a Cussler novel. You’re welcome to dive in wherever you please and then you can take all the time you need to catch up. I’ve very recently been enjoying Graham Brown’s Danielle Laidlaw and Hawker thrillers – review to come – and so I was unable to resist the double enticement of The Storm. If an author has to share the burden it may as well be with one of the most exciting thriller writers I’ve read for a while.
The Numa novels are slightly calmed down versions of the Dirk Pitt novels. They’re almost – but not quite – more realistic in terms of what the heroic human body can do before it should be shredded into a pulp. Dirk Pitt, the head of Numa and a little too old to play these days, supervises from afar the work of Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala. Needless to say, both men are extremely handsome, rugged, likeable and always hungry for a decent meal.
A ship carrying members of Numa is discovered empty and burnt almost to a wreck. There is no sign of the crew but all the signs suggest that they set fire to the vessel. What could have driven them to commit such an act that may well have cost them their lives? We know, though, that a malevolent swarm of particles overwhelmed the ship, seeking life to destroy it. Kurt and Joe, as well as the sister of one of the lost Numa men, set out to discover the nature of the swarm, its goals and who controls it.
It’s not long before they discover Yemeni Jinn al-Khaif, a rich but bitter man of the desert who aims to control the planet, especially the middle and eastern areas, with his catastrophic manipulation of the weather. And it’s all thanks to billions of hungry nasty microbots.
The Storm is a hugely enjoyable thriller. Kurt and Joe move the action on apace with both deed and dialogue. They are never less than entertaining and brave. The novel is helped along with the feisty Leilani and the eccentricities of the billionaire who lives aboard an ever-moving mechanical, sailing island. The odd twist doesn’t hurt either.
No deep thought is required. All the reader is asked to do is sit back, relax and race along with the always amusing Kurt and Joe as they race to save the world in the nick of time.