White Death (2003)

I’ve rarely been disappointed with a book with Clive Cussler’s name on it, but this one did disappoint me. This is the fourth book co written in the NUMA Files series with author Paul Kemprecos, and is the sequel to Fire Ice. Perhaps it should be renamed the “Eco Files” as this series tends to focus more on ecological issues, than some of the other Cussler novels.

I was pleased that White Death did use the two background story technique that is only rarely used (my favorite novel that uses this is Sahara, definitely read the book and for sure skip the movie). The background stories focused on a sea battle from 1515, and a Nazis hydrogen airship on a secret polar expedition.

The formulaic elements are mostly present including the series heroes Kurt Austin, and Joe Zavala. We also get the visits from maritime historian St. Julian Pearlmutter, and Admiral Sandecker. White Death has the domineering multinational corporation looking to take over the world with their new technology- bioengineered fish. There are also some new technology toys such as the dive suit and the Sea Lamprey rescue sub. So far, this book isn’t that different from most of the novels of the series.

The weakness of White Death lies in the prose. There are a few too many characters to start with. Then, let’s add in that the prose is simply not as crisp as the works that Cussler writes alone. While he can outline the plot, and subplots for the coauthor, the crisp Cussler prose, that is quite poetic at times simply cannot be easily duplicated. This makes this book the written equivalent of a direct to DVD movie. It doesn’t make it bad per se, but not exactly A-list stuff either. At times, the plot gets quite confusing, and that is rare in a Cussler work.

Who should read this? For those of us who are true Cussler fans, than we want to read all of his works, and then White Death belongs on the list for the sake of completeness. It does have some redeeming scenes, but they don’t fit together as neat and tidy as in some of his other novels that gel so nicely at the conclusion. For those looking to get introduced to this author, I’d strongly suggest that you start with the original Dirk Pitt series which is considerably stronger than this offshoot.

Overall Grade: B-

No comments: