October 23, 2011

Review - "The Race" by Clive Cussler

Genre: Action/Adventure

Why can't I learn a simple lesson? Clive Cussler writes superb action/adventure books. Clive Cussler when using co-authors, in this case Justin Scott, does not write superb action/adventure books! This is all for the money.. Baahh... It gets me every time, and I make the mistake again and again - hoping, maybe this time, that things have changed. Well, they haven't..!

A bit about the book

The story takes place in 1910 and we are at the beginning of the aviation era. A news publisher, Preston Whiteway, offers $50.000 to the first aviator/aviatrix who is able to cross the States in less than 50 days. Whiteway even sponsors one of the favourite candidates, a tough and highly competitive girl - Josephine Frost - and this is where Cussler's/Scott's chief investigator Isaac Bell gets into the game.

Josephine's violent and convicted husband has just killed her lover and have tried to kill Josephine as well. There is no doubt that he will continue trying till he has succeeded. Isaac Bell has met Harry Frost before and he knows that Frost has built his fortune on gangs with thieves and murderers in every city and state accross the continent. Bell also knows that Frost not only will come after his wife, but also the news publisher Whiteway. And if Bell takes the case, well - then he'll also be on the list.  

Spoiler alerts...

The aviation race starts and what must happen happens. Isaac Bell manages during the whole competition to prevent every attempt of killing Josephine and himself. The attempts aren't even specially creative, and Bell - who has never been in an aeroplane before, manages to fly his own (!) as he hasn't done anything else in his whole life but flying. No instruction, nothing. Fantastic! He even wins the race! Yeeyyhh...

At the beginning of the story it is clearly visible that Josephines lover who is killed by Harry Frost will survive the attempt and somehow reappear. And of course he does. You'll find so many obvious subplots that it is pathetic. At the same time the novel is slooooooow. When has ever a true Clive Cussler novel been slow?!? 

My opinion, and

...my advice? Use your money more wisely. I was at least very disappointed - again! As mentioned, I used to find Cussler a very competent action/adventure storyteller, and his Dirk Pitt books are among the best in this genre. They are up to speed, are very exciting although easy to read, but creative and highly infectuous. Cussler mixes past "history" with present activities and has always a couple of parallell stories and subplots which always blend perfectly together in the end. There are always exciting twist & turns when you least expect it, and this fantastic mix has made Cussler to one of my favourite action/adventure writers. In the past, that is....

Cussler HAS written some good novels with another co-author, but he is the exception. This is the NUMA files with Paul Kemprecos. The first 8 books in this series holds in my opinion Cussler standard. However, I see that the 9th book "Devils Gate" he has swapped Kemprecos with the new Graham Brown for some reason, so here we go again...

How can Cussler accept this? He has now celebrated his 80th birthday, and yes - he is getting old. But why not end his career while on top? Why drag his own name through this co-author mud of destruction? I have now bought my last Clive Cussler novel! An era is over, I salute the author he used to be, and will probably re-read the whole Dirk Pitt series at one point in life. You were great, Cussler!

For you who want to read his good novels, check the list of his series HERE. I recommend all 21 novels in the Dirk Pitt series, and the first 8 NUMA files. The rest you can safely leave!

Pic of the day which goes with the novel: The de Havilland dual wing
Source: http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk

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