Cover art by Tom Hallman
NUMA FILES BOOK 9
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin)
First published: 14 November 2011
This edition published: 6 November 2012
On the cover:
(Actually on the inside of the book.)
A Japanese cargo ship bursts into flames near the Azores, and a gang of pirates speeds to take advantage of the disaster—but their boat explodes. What on earth is happening? Is it connected to the kidnapping of a top scientist from the streets of Geneva? Or the discovery of an extraordinary underwater graveyard of ships and planes littered across the seafloor?
As Austin and the rest of the NUMA® team rush to investigate, they find themselves drawn into the extraordinary ambitions of an African dictator, the creation of a weapon of almost mythical power, and an unimaginable audacious plan to extort the world’s major nations.
The penalty for refusal? The destruction of the world’s greatest cities. Starting with Washington, D.C....
Just to get this out of my system:
Dear Mr. Cussler, Heinrich Nordengrun is not a Norwegian name. If you are planning on using any Norwegian names, or words, in the future I will be happy to help you get it correct. My e-mail address is in the right hand corner of this page underneath my picture.
As usual for any Cussler (,with or without co-author,) novel this one has a prologue that gives us an artifact. This time the artifact is rather recent, and it doesn't come into play that much.
As in any Adventure novel, there is a certain level of "turning off critical thought" here, but there's not unforgivable levels of it. There's the usual narrative coincidences that most fiction rely on, but Adventure to a greater degree, and there's some technology here that is a bit ahead of what we can expect science to provide us with at the present date.
But once you have accepted these "Adventure conventions", this is pretty good at keeping things at a plausible level. There's perhaps a coincidence too many even for this kind of novel, but that is quickly forgotten.
There is a lot of action, which goes without saying for anyone who has read a novel that Cussler has had a hand in. The action is well written, and frequently works in conjunction with an element of danger to create much of the suspense in the novel. In fact, putting characters in peril is used to great effect here. The authors are great at getting that feeling of "this could be it" across, even though the events in themselves are bordering on the impossible.
Often the story itself is driven by these "impossible dangers", I think that works here, but it is certainly something that I can understand if someone feels that makes this novel uninteresting to them.
The story here is really a good one. It starts off with action, and it continues to contain enough action to satisfy throughout its length.
It can be debated whether or not the premise is really likely at all, but I was fine with it. Nothing overly original, or sophisticated, but very well executed and absolutely interesting. NUMA being a "secret" government agency does of course colour the novel to quite some extent. There's a grand scale here that does differentiate this from the average Adventure novel. I found it worked well here, and the story certainly would not have worked if NUMA had just been a band of adventurers.
The authors have also found the room for some character interactions that are really interesting here. Two of the characters are married, in itself rather unusual for Adventure, and they are given quite a bit of room. They even have their own point of view chapters. I thought their relationship was well presented in the story, and it was actually quite refreshing to see a female character that goes beyond the love interest/superspy stereotype.
The real main character though is Kurt Austin, a character fans of previous Cussler novels will recognize. He hasn't really changed much from when we last saw him, whether that is good or bad is up to individual tastes. I must say that personally I find him a good Action Adventure hero. And he's one I don't mind following through a novel.
All in all this is one of the better Cussler (and co-author) novels of recent years. It's clear that Brown is very capable of holding up Cussler's standard. The story is good without too much that requires the reader to "turn off the brain", and it is an enjoyable action-filled Adventure story. If you go in knowing what to expect, this should be to your liking. A recommended read for those that want some entertaining reading with an action movie flavour to it.
REVIEW: The Jungle