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River of Ruin (Philip Mercer) Mass Market Paperback – December 3, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 152 customer reviews
Book 5 of 7 in the Philip Mercer Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jam-packed with action and larger-than-life heroics, DuBrul's latest (after Pandora's Curse) sets geologist Philip Mercer on a course to save the world once again. This time he's in Panama, where he uncovers a Chinese plot to bomb the canal with nuclear weapons in order to strong-arm the U.S. into allowing China's takeover of Taiwan. Though teeming with up-to-the-minute technology (such as an experimental but deadly long-range cannon), the novel possesses a surprising Cold War perspective toward China. DuBrul demonstrates his knowledge of everything from geology to mechanics through prose that is at times too technical for the lay reader, but he lends his protagonist a welcome touch of emotional complexity. Mercer's softer side surfaces in his dealings with sexy heroine Lauren Vanik, a U.S. army officer, and, to a different extent, when his recollections of an old mentor prevent him from succumbing to diabolical Chinese torture. Despite these introspective moments, this is an adventure story at heart, and the action scenes come fast and furious, in sewers, factories, giant ships and more. It's evident from the outset that Mercer and his team will come out on top, but the fun is watching DuBrul untangle his own skillfully woven knots.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“A combination of Dirk Pitt and James Bond.”—The Sunday Oklahoman


“The technology [Du Brul] comes up with is on par if not superior to Clancy.”—Clive Cussler


“Outrageous cliffhangers.”—

Kirkus Reviews


“A breakneck pace.”—Douglas Preston


“[An] adrenaline rush.”—

Publishers Weekly



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Product Details

  • Series: Philip Mercer
  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (December 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451410548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451410542
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 21, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read all of Jack Dubrul's novels so far, and there is one thing I can say about him. When he is good, he is good and when he is bad, he is really bad. I know that might sound generic, but it's true, and the best I could think to write it. His hits as I mentioned above seem to come with every other outing he takes us along with his character Mercer. It all started with Vulcan's Forge, which was good as action adventure goes, but was a little weak on characterization. Mercer's friends are all cardboard cutouts, that are at best one dimensional. Next came Charon's Landing, which was just bad. It felt like he had writers block when he wrote it and went with whatever first popped into his head to keep the story going, which was usually a crude joke. He improved with The Medusa Stone, which was a well rounded novel, and you actually began to care about the poorly drawn supporting characters such as the eighty year old friend, that he traveled across the world to save, and who has been in all the adventures so far, in one way or another. Pandora's Curse was like deja vous if you read a book called Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Also, nazi hunters and nazis altoghether are all worn out. Aside from some good action, and the tug of war between a sub and a zeppelin that was the seed that started the novel in the first place, it was a mediocre effort. Oh, the secret society or brotherhood aspect has been better used many different places, Serpent by Cussler and Kemprecos for example. Now we come to River of Ruin. By now we like Harry the octagenarian, and we begin to learn some of Mercer's dark past. As an action adventure novel, it was good with some really good bad guys, and the whole plot involving the Panama Canal was good.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
What happens when you combine Dirk Pitt and James Bond? You get Phillip Mercer. Jack Du Brul has plunged geologist Phillip Mercer in the middle of a plot to gain control of the Panama Canal. Drawn to Panama to help an old friend, Mercer finds himself neck deep in murder, conspiracy, and a plot to shift power to an elite branch of the Chinese military. With the help of Harry White, a US Army Captain, and several members of the French Foreign Legion, Mercer makes the connection between an old journal and lost Inca treasure. This is Jack Du Brul's best book yet!! His characters are well developed, the action is fast, and the plot is believable with enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
River of Ruin is Du Brul's best since The Medusa Stone (hard to top that one, really). It's extremely fast-paced, witty and highly entertaining. It's a bit more technological than his other work, and I found myself not really paying much attention to the workings of the Panama Canal. I only cared about it as it related to the story, which I guess is the point anyway. Mercer continues to develop as a character into someone you care more and more about. Harry White is the only other recurring character to make an appearance here, but he's as grizzled and smarmy as ever. Set entirely away from the United States, the exotic locals in this book really help the story to clip right along.
With Clive Cussler having just announced his retirement (his next novel will be his last), lots of people will be looking for a new fix. If you're into action-adventure-thrillers, then Du Brul can't be beat!
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Again, Dubrul starts us with a history lesson. This time, it's the Panama Canal. Painstakingly researched, amazingly realistic, politically quite timely, this book is a thriller from start to finish. Geographically, we go from Washington DC, to Paris, then on to Panama. We are introduced to new characters, check in with some of the old characters, and discuss Chinese expansionism abroad. DuBrul is just masterful, certainly in the class of Clancy, Lee Child, Ted Bell, Clive Custler, and the like. DuBrul never oversimplifies a plot. His characters hurt, get sick, and bleed. The battles are realistic, and DuBrul clearly has knowledge of weapons and tactics, and that attention to detail shows. Overall, these are great books, and I have so enjoyed Philip Mercer, the man, and the idea he represents, of determination overcoming any obstacle. Just don't start the book on a work night! Note, these books by DuBrul are lengthy. These aren't for the MTV generation, who expect everything resolved within a 44 minute television episode. Like great authors, DuBrul takes his time. He lets the plot develop, and his books are labryintian in the tangles and twists he introduces. DuBrul has quickly vaulted to one of my favorites.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The newpaper headline aside I really liked this book. After reading the tedious Red Rabbit by Clancy, this book was refreshing. The Clancy book took forever to read and was more suited for insominacs, this book moved along at a rapid pace from the first page.
It starts with a bang when he goes to Paris to buy an old diary written by the first person who tried to build a Panama canal. After he buys the diary the book takes off on a wild journey through and under Paris to Panama.
Whereever Mercer goes the body count mounts as he always seems to find the wrong people in search of the truth.
I like the book because of some of the honest statements about people and guns, like at more than 50 yards shooting a pistol with accuracy is only seen in the movies, or words to that effect.
Best of all is the cast of characters and the parts they play in this book, one of the heros is his best friend Harry who at 80 comes to the rescue. All in all this was a great read, I work weekends and still found time to use every non working minute to read a few pages until I was finished.
One last thing, there of course is the evil villian and his henchman and the femme fatale, but it would not be a Mercer book without them. Some books like Cusslers who have similar plots in each of his book I found tedious, but these I seem to find refreshing as duBrul seems to find new ways to keep my interest.
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