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Whatever happened to Clive Cussler?
on November 21, 2012
Time was that a new Dirk Pitt adventure meant several hours happily spent. Cussler had (past tense deliberate) great talent as a storyteller. He weaved fact and fancy into a spellbinding concoction of thrills, chills and, ultimately, a resounding victory over the bad guys.
Not anymore. For a long time, Cussler has listed others as co-authors, which at least is more honest than some of the authors who have become writing factories.
This time out, Cussler gives co-author credit to his son.
Of course, I don't know who wrote what in "Poseidon's Arrow", thus I don't know who to blame for this failure.
Cussler, pere, has always pushed the limits of getting the reader to embrace credulity and accept his often over-the-top storytelling. But with the co-authors involved, the magic simply isn't there. I gave up on his last book in less than 100 pages.
In "Poseidon's Arrow", Cussler begins as he often does with a bit of history, in this case a German submarine being attacked in the Indian Ocean in 1943. Then we abruptly transition to the development of a new class of American submarines. Things start getting shaky though when Cussler introduces an eccentric genius who . . . and that's where I will stop. There are people who may enjoy this book and I don't want to destroy it for them with spoilers.
Suffice it say, though, that Cussler's plotting on this one is thin to point of becoming ludicrous - which is precisely what happens on page 176. I won't tell you what happens, but it is so transparent, so outlandish and so stupid that it killed my interest in the book. On the one hand, the authors want you to accept their characters as being super-smart - and then have them take actions that are just plain stupid and unbelievable. The writing here is high-school level, the author(s) obviously stumped as to how to move the story forward, so they put their faith in the reader being willing to suspend disbelief.
It has worked in different circumstances for Clive Cussler in the past.
But it doesn't work here - and didn't work in his last novel either.
I am disappointed. I won't stop reading new Cussler novels yet, but for the moment, the thrill is gone.