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The One That Started It All
on July 18, 2013
The first published (second written) adventure of Dirk Pitt and the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) is well worth picking up as the story contains all the hallmarks Cussler established and has used for Pitt and his crew ever since - including a great plot (and subplots), characters you love and hate, and high-quality action that keeps you turning pages.
As a note, this Pitt story does not begin with an historical prologue that later ties into Pitt's adventure. However, there is a World War I German bi-plane that attacks an American Air Force Base on a Greek Island.
As fate would have it, Pitt and his partner, Al Giordino, are traveling on assignment in their World War II flying boat (amphibious aircraft) but are, however, only armed with a couple of rifles. Never one to back down from a challenge, Pitt and his WWII plane engage the WWI craft and a dogfight ensues. Through daring and some luck the good guys win.
That is the introduction to Pitt arriving in the Aegean Sea to connect with a NUMA research vessel searching for evidence of a fossil believed to be tied to the development of the first mammal. However, what ends up on Pitt's radar is a massive international smuggling operation, including, among other things, drugs and human trafficking, led by a man known by one name (Bruno Von Till) but is, in reality, the former commander of the Nazi transportation fleet during WWII, who then used that experience to establish and run a fleet of cargo vessels.
Adding some spice to the story, Pitt meets Von Till after having met and romanced the smuggler's niece (who has a dramatically different role than as a loving relation to her uncle). Pitt escapes death on more than one occasion in his attempt to bring down Von Till, and works with both the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Interpol until he realizes that the plan hatched by the two organizations to capture the elusive Von Till may not work. Devising his own course of action, Pitt, with the assistance of his NUMA team, go after the smuggler themselves.
As an added bonus is a foreword from Cussler and some cool endpaper maps. Though I also own a 1978 paperback of the book, this 40th anniversary hardcover edition is a welcome addition to my library. Keep in mind this was first published in 1973 and, thus, there is no internet, nor any iPhones nor iPads, to assist in pursuit or escape, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action/adventure, and especially to those who follow the escapades of Dirk & Co.