On the ocean liner Mauretania, two European scientists with a dramatic new invention are barely rescued from abduction by the Van Dorn Detective Agency's intrepid chief investigator, Isaac Bell. Unfortunately, they are not so lucky the second time. The thugs attack again - and this time one of the scientists dies. What are they holding that is so precious? War clouds are looming, and a ruthless espionage agent has spotted a priceless opportunity to give the Germans an edge.
Reviewed on 2nd March 2012
Isaac Bell returns for another early 20th Century adventure. As the German war machine is building, they attempt to kindap two scientists from a trans-Atlantic liner, but Bell can't fathom why.
This is far from the most exciting of the Isaac Bell novels, with actually surprisingly little by way of action and much more investigation, but as such it feels like a better constructed plot. It does lack the trademark technological focus of some of the earlier stories which focussed on cars, trains, planes, though there is a little of this in the treatment of early film production.
Despite this, I'm continuing to enjoy the Bell stories more than Cussler's other spinoffs. Perhaps it's the historical setting, but I notice less of the plot holes that appear in the modern-day stories and things seem much more believable.
It's also worth noting that there are a number of typos in my copy - I wonder whether the extreme three-month turnaround between books is making the proof-reading process rushed. I find this quite irritating in a novel as it tends to break me out from the flow of the story. I also find the illustrations laughable and filled with spoilers - what's the point of showing me a picture of a pivotal scene that hasn't happened yet?
Overall, a well constructed story that could perhaps do with a tiny bit more excitement. Cussler's output has yet to return to its peak but has definitely picked up from recent lows.