Dirk Pitt, ancient artifact discoverer extraordinaire is searching an ancient deepsea wreck for info about the Library of Alexandria when he finds himself drawn into a terrorist plot set on international unrest and upheaval in Egypt and Mexico. He picks up several love interests along the way and with his trusty band of sidekicks, goes toe to toe with a madman.
I won’t deny that the story was entertaining but it could have been so much better. If Cussler had made the characters believable and if the plot had less of a James Bond scope I would have enjoyed it more. There are action scenes of literally every type. There’s an airplane crash, a shipwreck explored, a car chase down a mountain, a battle in an air hanger, men scaling a mountain and climbing on board a ship. I find it difficult to believe that a man in the business of salvaging ancient antiquities would get involved in such zaniness. To be fair Indiana Jones did the same thing but for some reason it feels more believable taking place in the late 30s with Nazis coming out of the woodwork and fewer regulations on ancient sites and artifacts. Having the book take place in present day (1989) I expect more. Overall I would classify the book as a beach read, something to take on vacation if you don’t want to think too hard.
Dirk Pitt is super annoying as a protagonist because he's described as 'practically perfect in every way'. He's tall, handsome, smart, athletic and gets all the ladies. There were so many instances when the way he was described made him seem cartoonish because of how unbelievable it was. For example his eyes are described in a ridiculous manner. "They seemed to reflect hardness, gentleness and sincere concern in one glinting montage." How can eyes both reflect hardness and gentleness? It’s impossible! We are also led to believe that his piercing gaze makes women weak in the knees. The book is a harlequin romance written by a man with a protagonist so unrealistic it ruined the book and every other Dirk Pitt story for me. On that note I do have one more Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt book in my library called ”Inca Gold” that I am very tempted to read and then dispose of. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that readers are treated with a degree of intelligence by the author and I felt that while the story contained political intrigue, the story itself was dumbed down.
The sad part is I only picked up this book because it mentioned discovering the lost Library of Alexandria on the dust jacket. The problem is the Library is in fact, a Macguffin. The reader is lulled into thinking the story will be about bringing back the literary treasures of the past but the library story line soon fades into the background only to reemerge at the very end of the book. It felt as if Cussler smushed together two different books. We start with the Library but a large portion of the book is taken up with international terrorists.
The strange thing is I own the movie ”Sahara”, a Dirk Pitt movie based on a book of the same name. It’s actually pretty decent. Good action, characters and plot. I’ll have to revisit it and review it on here to contrast how Dirk Pitt can be handled well as a character. If you’re looking for something to read on the plane that’s action oriented but not too deep, pick up this book.