28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
For fans of Jack Du Brul and his series character Philip Mercer, the wait for the latest book has been far too long! At least Mercer is returning to us in a fashionable hardback edition. And it's possible that absence has made my heart grow fonder, because I found this novel a joy to read from start to finish.
Perhaps working with the master, Clive Cussler, is affecting Du Brul's own work, because Havoc has a distinctly Cusslerian format. There's the mix of contemporary history, ancient history, and how current day events can shed light on and solve the mysteries of our time. The novel opens during the final hours of the Hindenberg's voyage. The events that occur right before the airship's destruction are... startling.
From there we jump to Mercer in Africa, and his meeting with Cali Stowe--who I'm pretty sure is my favorite of Du Brul's leading ladies--under fairly stressful circumstances. After surviving their first meeting in the midst of a coup attempt, little do the two realize they'll soon be reunited stateside. The mystery that began on the Hindenberg in 1937 is intimately tied to the events of unfolding around them.
And once the plot gets rolling, the action is non-stop taking Mercer and Cali to locations ranging from an east coast casino to the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. As a matter of fact, it's possible my only complaint in the whole novel was Mercer's wanton destruction of historic artifacts. I was SO caught up in the story that I'd cringe every time something priceless was destroyed. I kept having to tell myself, It's just a story!
But what the real fans want to know is: Is Harry in the book? Of course he is, and up to all his old tricks! This time Du Brul got the balance just right. There's exactly enough Harry, but not too much. And there were some neat new supporting characters added in this book as well.
Like I said, it's possible that absence has made my heart grow fonder, but I think Havoc is as good as anything Jack Du Brul has ever written. It may very well be his best yet. He sure better not make us wait several years for the next installment in this terrific series!
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I have been saying for several years now that Jack DuBrul IS the Heir to the Cussler Action Throne, and his last 3 novels have helped cement my opinion, but 'Havoc' has in fact cast my opinion in solid titanium. One other reviewer noted that since there has been a much longer wait for this novel than in between the Mercer novels of the past, it MAY have helped to propel 'Havoc' into a better status than it otherwise may have received, but I tend to think that DuBrul earned it the hard way: Through good old fashioned great storytelling.
I have noticed that Mercer as well as Dirk Pitt enjoy SOME similarities, and the fact that actual historical events play a major part in almost all of their stories is probably no accident. It IS however one similarity that I enjoy VERY much. In this case, we begin 'Havoc' as a passenger aboard the Hindenburg on its tragic final journey to New Jersey. This was a facinating and totally engrossing opening to a fantastic journey that catapults the reader to Niagra Falls, to Africa to quite literally the middle of nowhere in Russia all on the search for something that Alexander The Great used to subdue his enemies, even when faced with impossible odds.
What exactly WAS Alexander using? How did he become the conquerer that made him famous for centuries? And more importantly, why are some hell-bent on finding the answers besides Mercer & Co, and why are others just as determined to keep it all secret? The journey as always is more than half the fun. The action is virtually non-stop and while I still believe Dirk Pitt in his prime could whip Phillip Mercer, it is that exact imperfection that I like most about Mercer as an action hero: he ISN'T perfect. He doesn't always succeed, and when he does, you get the distinct feeling that his amazingly close brushes with the afterlife come at a tremendous cost. We get to see the REAL Mercer within the pages of 'Havoc' as he is still nursing the wounds of losing someone very important, and yet he is tempted by a new and very interesting woman who forces him to accept what has happened and to move on with life, all while being quite the action hero herself.
I have a very small list of Must-Read authors which compell me to find, buy and read all of their novels the day they are released, and if this means anything, Jack DuBrul earned that status about half-way through reading his first book, 'Vulcan's Forge'. Give him a shot, and by the way, he has single-handedly brought some much needed new life and entertainment to Cussler's so-so 'Oregon Files' series. Jack, once again, Kudos for a job well done. I look forward to starting 'Skeleton Coast' as soon as I get home.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
It's hard for a book I looked forward to as much as this one to live up to my expectations, but it did a pretty good job. Phillip Mercer is back at last, rolling onto the scene in war-torn Africa, driving a truck full of refugees while on a geological assignment. This is where he meets Cali Stowe, purportedly from the Centers for Disease Control. Cali is looking for a village that has the highest rate of cancer in the world, hoping to learn valuable information before civil war wipes the village off the map. She and Mercer find the village and a mysterious open pit mine just before being taken captive by some mercenaries, and then getting rescued by some shadowy men who warn them never to return.
Back in Washington, Mercer discovers Cali doesn't work for the CDC, she's actually a nuclear specialist who was sent to Africa to search for a source of radiation poisoning. Some stories they heard in Africa put them on the trail of an obscure historian and in the sights of the very dangerous men who are searching for what the historian found. Mercer and Cali follow a trail from Atlantic City, nearly over Niagra Falls, through remote parts of Russia, and into the heart of Egypt, dodging bullets and outrunning the bad guys the whole way. They are aided often by mysterious men who call themselves Janissaries as they hunt for a weapon once used by Alexander the Great that could cause untold destruction in the modern world.
Since Clive Cussler essentially retired, Jack du Brul is the best adventure writer out there, and he hangs onto the title with ease. There is something indefinable that made me grip the pages of his earlier adventures a little tighter that seems to be missing here, though. This was also a good 130 pages shorter than Mercer's last adventure. Jack du Brul had a really good thing going with this series, but though I hate to say it, it seems to be suffering from his attention being diverted elsewhere. Not so much that this book isn't good, but it's not as good as the last four or so in the series. While it's benefiting greatly from du Brul, I'd scuttle the "Oregon" in a heartbeat if I thought it was going to hurt Phillip Mercer. Quite simply, I love him. He's tough, vulnerable, and violent when he needs to be; a man's man who's still likeable and sensitive to women. He's the perfect hero for the new millennium.
If you've never read Jack du Brul, this isn't a bad place to start, though of course I recommend starting with Vulcan's Forge and reading them in order. These are fast-paced, globe-hopping adventures with wonderful characters. Who else has an 80-year-old alcoholic sidekick with a lazy dog aptly named Drag? This is a very fun series that delivers every time, and I couldn't be happier that Mercer is back.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2007
A reader who picks up Havoc gets exactly what he pays for: larger-than-life hero with an overdeveloped sense of right and wrong, badder-than-bad villains who stop at nothing to achieve their nefarious ends, mysterious third parties who lurk in the shadows between good and evil, transoceanic mayhem, doomsday weaponry, and a leggy broad. Who care what the plot is? It's the same in every book and--as many other reviewers have noted--it's the same no matter who the author is. But Havoc has a special quality that set it apart not only from the rest of the DuBrul oeuvre, but from the rest of the action-adventure genre as well. I was delighted at the overtly political nature of this book, and the way in which it depicts both the United States and American ideals as positive forces in the world. That the story should turn on a plot to disrupt the world's oil supplies by an entity other than the US government or a greedy US corporation is, sadly but nonetheless refreshingly, breathtaking in its originality. It's worth reading Havoc simply to indulge in the rare pleasure of seeing America's enemies bashed instead of the other way around.
The character of Mercer, though, continues to vex me. At some point this poor soul either needs to come out of the closet or bring to closure the Oedipal issues left unresolved when his mother died an untimely death. This he-man is so shy around women, he can't even look them in the eye. And while Mercer spends much of Havoc moaning about his lost love Tisa (a woman in whose company he perhaps spent a total of maybe 48 non-consecutive hours), he also forgets the name of the Eritrean bombshell, Selome Nagast, he sniffed around in The Medusa Curse (2001). Some three years later he can only remember her as "Salome." Editing error? Perhaps, but totally in keeping with Mercer's overall attitude toward women. By the next adventure, perhaps the winsome Tisa of 2003's Deep Fire Rising will have become "Tina" in Mercer's spotty memory.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2006
Set in 1937 aboard the German Hindenberg, a madman throws a safe overboard to prevent discovery, then inadvertently sets a fire which destroys its secret. Seven decades later a field researcher investigates a small village with one of the highest cancer rates in the world - and stumbles upon a long-buried secret in the face of a local civil war. Cali's journey will bring her back to the U.S. on a mission to uncover a secret that could change the world. Tension is powerfully woven in a book which includes elements of detective intrigue, science, and military history: the result is a rich stew of intrigue which grabs from Page 1 and doesn't let go: mystery and intrigue readers will find this a delightfully different, engrossing read.
Diane C. Donovan
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2009
This was an exciting thriller but it was marred by the spelling bloopers scattered liberally throughout the book. There is nothing as disconcerting as seeing the author write "sheer" when he meant "shear" and vice-versa. Other bloopers were "principal" for "principle" and my favorite: "a role of tape." I can understand making these mistakes when he was first composing the manuscript, but it is obvious that he never proofread it afterwards and neither did the editors. Shame on them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Do you like a good yarn? Do you like something to happen during novels? Do you like the early Clive Cussler books about Dirk Pitt? Did you like the new novel, Skeleton Coast, by Clive Cussler and Jack DuBrul? If you answered "yes" to any two of those questions, you must read Havoc!
As the book opens, a desperate man clings to life as he tries to bring back an important secret on the dirigible Hindenburg. Before the dirigible is reduced to ashes, twisted metal, and hot gases, the secret is launched into the future. There to catch the scent of that secret is Philip Mercer, the Dirk Pitt of geologists in the service of the United States. The search for the secret begins in the middle of a bloody civil war in Africa, but soon extends into current geo-politics, an Atlantic City casino, solving a puzzling coded message to an important historical figure, Russia, and Egypt. Along the way, Mercer finds himself overcoming his grief over the death of his love a few months before. There are also mysterious figures in the background who have another agenda.
The book is filled with fascinating speculations about historical events, a great treat for those who love thinking about "what if?" Pay attention to the names, too. There are some humorous references there that will keep you chuckling.
The book moves at a beautiful pace . . . that keeps drawing you forward to the next page . . . and the next . . . deep into the night.
Another appealing feature of the book is that Mr. DuBrul doesn't hesitate to point out who the real villains are today.
You've got a great treat ahead of you!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2007
Consider this - there are literally hundreds of adventure writers out there today, churning out all manner of action novels. The gambit runs from the terrible to the excellent.
Sadly, I've found that most adventure novels fall into the former category. There are few adventure writers out there who can tell a good story and keep the action flowing, and keep me interested.
I'm of the mind that I can't, in a novel, just have mindless action. I don't mind that in movies, as I am only looking to be entertained for a couple of hours at best. A novel will take me typically six or more hours to read.
My mind needs to be entertained. The only way an author can manage to do that is by creating interesting characters, having these characters travel to exotic locations, and deal with life or death situations.
Thus, the reason that I love the series Outlanders (only those written by Mark Ellis, accept no substitutes).
Here we go again, I digress.
On top of that, I don't mind getting an education either. If a particular author writes a novel and takes time to do the research, and I actually learn something from it, then it makes the experience all that much better. So, novels that deal with mythology or historical fact are of great interest to me.
Even if it's pure fiction, pure speculation, it enriches my already fertile imagination.
Over the years I've managed to find a few authors that have managed to write adventure novels that I have really enjoyed. Just to name a few of my favourite adventure writers - James Rollins, Preston and Child (Although most of their recent novels have been mysteries), Clive Cussler, and of course - Mark Ellis.
Recently I discovered a fairly new writer named Jack Du Brul, and picked up his latest novel Havoc.
The premise on the back caught my interest - a mining engineer along with a field researcher from the CDC meet up in Africa. She's trying to find out answers to why a particular tribe suffers from the highest rate of cancer in the world, and he's trying to help people escape from a mounting civil war.
The encounter leads to many questions and once back in the states, the engineer, Dr. Philip Mercer, discovers more questions than answers that lead him to a long lost safe that was connected not only to the crash of the Hindenburg blimp, but to Albert Einstein as well.
In this novel we have all the elements of what is in my opinion, the perfect adventure novel.
1 - Interesting and likable characters. The characters are intelligent and experienced, and best of all - human. They have flaws to compliment their strengths.
2 - Location. This is the second most important aspect of a novel to me. I want to read about exotic locations, even if some of these spots turn out to be pestholes. Because of my imagination, if the description is well written, I can actually picture it in my mind.
3 - Mythology and history combined. This novel deals with Alexander the Great, Albert Einstein, Tesla, and events that took place during World War 2.
4 - It's well written! The novel was easy to read, and had more than enough action to satisfy me. There was plenty of description and character interaction, which is a must, but it was well balanced with some truly spectacular action sequences. Particularly a train wreck and the explosion of a boat in a harbour.
As I stated earlier, Mr. Du Brul's a recent addition to the vast family of adventure writers out there. I picked up his first novel - Vulcan's forge, and found out that it was published in 1998.
For me to pick up another novel by an author that I'm unfamiliar with, when I'm barely half way through it, speaks volumes.
The only other authors that I've done that with recently were Jim Butcher (creator and author of the Dresden Files), and F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack and numerous other novels).
I really enjoyed the book that much!
And, it goes without saying that I am planning on buying more of his books as I can locate them.
5 out of 5
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Set in a multitude of locations across the globe and covering several periods in history, this is a fast moving quasi-historical thriller which begins at the Hindenburg disaster, but backtracks to the time of Alexander the Great, the ancient Egyptians and even Homer's Odyssey, before arriving at its exciting but improbable conclusion.
Our story begins aboard the Hindenburg with a certain Mr. Chester Bowie being in possession of a safe with contents so valuable that he is willing to go to great lengths to keep it out of the wrong hands. Mr. Bowie appears to be somewhat deranged, but just prior to the disaster, the safe and its precious contents disappear into the night. Lyrics from a popular song by Sir Elton John titled "Madman Across the Water" fit the scene perfectly.
"The ground's a long way down but I need more
Is the nightmare black
or are the windows painted
Will they come again next week
Can my mind really take it?"
The next scene takes us to the Central African Republic, where leading character Philip Mercer, a geologist and part time Government employee, meets Cali Stowe, who's in Africa ostensibly as a field researcher for the CDC. Barely escaping with their lives, the two leave many questions unanswered, and spend the remainder of the book trying to fill in the blanks.
From Atlantic City to Arlington, to Niagara Falls, Russia, Africa and back, and then on to Egypt, the pair and their allies manage to make progress, but every forward step is blocked by a formidable enemy with one eye and no mercy. Everybody everywhere seems armed to the teeth with the ubiquitous AK-47s which pop up in almost every chapter, RPG rocket launchers, Kalashnikov AK-74s and more. In addition to these, and to make it more complicated, there's also a shadowy group with a secret to protect lurking in the background, and nobody seems to be who they say they are.
The central plot is provocative and intriguing, although a huge stretch of the imagination, and the action is fast, brutal and bloody. The two things that detract from the story are firstly the chemistry between Mercer and Cali, which bubbles and toils with lots of troubles, but never gets to boiling point, and secondly, there are several typos and spelling errors which should never have slipped past the editing point, and I found these distracting.
A good read for action/adventure fans who aren't too fussy about historical and grammatical accuracy or steamy love scenes.
Amanda Richards, August 27, 2007
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2007
I'll start of by saying that this is my first time reading any Jack Du Brul. I know this isn't the beginning of the Mercer series, but I was told you didn't need to read the books in order to understand what was going on, and since I found myself without a book for the first time in a while, I decided to pick this one up.
First, I'll give the pros. The good thing about this book, as with any action/adventure thriller, is that it kept me turning page after page to see what would happen next or how the characters would get out of their situation. As with James Bond (who the main character Mercer is compared to by reviewers,) you know he'll escape all of the crazy situations he gets himself into, but it doesn't matter becasuse, just like Bond, you'll be fascinated to see just how he manages to escape. The whole time reading this book, I kept drawing parallels between Du Brul and James Rollins in the progression, layout, and the extent of research of the book that lead to historical truths mixed with the author's own sense of an alternate history.
There were only a couple of cons with this book, and they are the only reason I couldn't give it five stars. The first problem was that I didn't think Du Brul did the best job of showing the passage of time. The characters were constantly going back and forth between three different continents and, at times, I found myself not even sure where they were or how much time had passed until a character blatantly said it. The other negative of the book was that I thought that the end was just a little bit unsatisfying. It's difficult to say why without giving it away, so I guess you have to read for yourself, but all I can say is I wanted a little more.
To sum it up, I enjoyed this book very much and I definitely recommend it, and if you're looking for a similar writer, get anything by Rollins.