Raise the Titanic! (1976)

Now that I've finished The Corps, I'm working on the handful of Clive Cussler novels that I haven't read yet. Raise the Titanic! is the third novel of the original Dirk Pitt series, and the fourth when we factor in the later released first novel, Pacific Vortex. You may recall that Raise the Titanic! got made into a film in the early 80's which was supposedly pretty bad, and the author consistently discourages folks from seeing.

While at the center of the plot is the plan to salvage the legendary passenger liner, there are plenty of subplots going on. We have a whole story around an imaginary element, Byzanium, which is required for a missile defense shield. Perhaps because the Titanic was found in more pieces that can be raised (intriguingly within two years of when this novel thought it would be found), or maybe because missile defense systems are no longer futuristic science fiction, but the whole central plot line seems a tad tired and dated. The parts with the Russians, practically sickle and hammer wielding, reinforce this concept of out of date.

While it was enjoyable to read about a more youthful Pitt, and hear about Admiral Sandecker less of a desk jockey and more hands on, I still missed many of the signature items that routinely appear in Cussler's later works. There is no car chase, no St. Julien Pearlmutter and his library, nor trip to Dirk's hangar. There were also too many characters for the size of this short novel that I found confusing at times to keep straight who everyone was.

In conclusion, Raise the Titanic! is one of my least favorite Dirk Pitt novels. That said that still makes it better than many other books out there. While it is hardly a timeless work, as so many of this author’s other novels are, it is still required reading for Cussler fans.

Overall Grade: B

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