Monday, December 17, 2012

Poseidon's Arrow - Book Review

Poseidon's Arrow (A Dirk Pitt Novel)
By Clive Cussler
Published - Putnam Books - November 2012


For Xmas I purchased my first E-Book - Poseidon's Arrow by Clive Cussler. I read it on my new Kobo E-Reader. Despite the prescence of several plot holes and continuity errors,  I still enjoyed it just as much as any other Dirk Pitt Novel.

The basic story is the US Navy making a new kind of submarine engine using high powered magnets and water propulsion (which kinds of sounds like the caterpillar drive from the Tom Clancy novel & later the movie - The Hunt for Red October (1990). This engine will make for a much quieter submarine so that the Russians and Chinese cant hear anything.The high powered magnets for this type of engine can only be made using elements called Rare Earths.

This engine (being made by the US Navy)  is stolen by a team working for an Austrian man named Bolcke, who owns a number of mines and intends to corner the market on rare earth elements. He starts by pirating several ships whose cargos are rare earth ores. He then makes a deal with the Chinese to sell them the engine that the Americans made (that he had arranged to have stolen), along with the plans and designs which show how to make more. He also asks the Chinese to halt exporting their rare earths so that Bolcke can build up both a scarce world market and a black market (unbeknownst to the Chinese).

When the Chinese discover that Bolcke is stealing some of their own rare earth ore and selling it back to them (selling the Chinese their own ore), they are incensed with the idea of putting Bolcke out of business as well as obtaining the engine and the plans.

When several ships go missing after their ore cargos are pirated on the high seas, Dirk Pitt and Al are both called in to find the ships and try and find out where the  hijacked cargos end up. They end up being caught in the middle of one such hijacking, and are tied up along with the crew.The ship is taken to Bolcke's ore mining facility in Panama where Pitt and Giordino are put to work as slaves.

In the meantime, Pitt's children, Summer and Dirk Junior are in the Indian Ocean looking for ways to prevent Tsunami's from causing so much damage. Somewhere off the coast of Madagascar, their submersible comes across a newly scuttled ship (with its named obliterated from the stern) and a mining outfit that buzzes and eventually sinks their submersible.

Summer and Dirk do escape from their submersible but are forced to swim to the mainland of Madagascar. The NUMA ship that was their base, quickly locates the sunken submersible, but has trouble finding the bodies or persons of Summer and Dirk Junior. However, after a little adventure on the island - the twins are eventually rescued and returned to the NUMA ship. During this time, they receive word that their father has gone missing in the Pacific.

Summer and Dirk return to Washington DC. After looking at satellite pictures of container ships along the Pacific coast, a small clue is found to connect the mining outfit that Dirk discovered in Madagascar with Bolcke's business in Panama. So Summer and Dirk fly to Panama city on the Pacific Coast.

In the meantime, Pitt finds a way to escape from the slave camp and while forced to leave Al behind, he manages to get aboard a train going to Panama city. In a bar, he calls the NUMA HQ office, collect from a payphone. After explaining where he has been and where he is, he is soon picked up by his own children. They go to the Canal Authority where they explain what is going on, and with the help of the Canal Authority security force, a battle ensues at the slave camp. The slaves are all rescued and then comes an exciting chase on the Panama canal to stop Bolcke from getting away, so that the engine and the plans can be recovered rather than be sold to the Chinese.

The only thing about this story I did not like was the extra addition of an NCIS agent - presumably because the engine that was stolen was made by the Navy. This agent - one Ann Bennett - was totally useless in her job. She was kidnapped twice, along with the design plans, and really did not do much at all to help Pitt recover the engine.

Agent Bennett also tried to seduce Pitt as well - and was quite embarrassed when he said NO -  because he was married. I found that any chapters about Agent Bennett were really just plot holes (aka plot bunnies) just to add "filler material" if you will, to make the book longer. The story would have done equally well if Summer had been the one abducted and Dirk Junior was racing along behind to find and rescue his sister.

If you leave out the parts concerning Agent Bennett, the rest of the story actually was just as good as all of Pitt's previous adventures. I was especially impressed with the boat chase on the Panama canal as it was an unusual variation of the more normal car chase that comes at the end of most movies. In fact I found it so exciting, I could not put my e-reader down, despite making plans to actually go out.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars at the Kobo book store - it would have been 5 stars if Agent Bennett was not present - she really was totally un-necessary to the story. 


I posted the following comment at Clive Cussler's website - in the vain hope that future books do not have mile wide plot holes in them. (I used the Contact Page)

Have just finished reading Poseidons Arrow. Just wanted you to know that it was good - but not great.

Agent Ann Bennett was totally unnecessary and really she should NEVER have been part of the story. Other than being useless at her job (being abducted twice means she cant do her job) and trying to seduce a married man (which means she did not do her homework) - there is nothing that she did that the Twins could not have done.

Summer could easily have been the one abducted after she and Dirk Jr returned from their little adventure in Madagascar.

Ann Bennett is a plot bunny with a plot hole, a MILE wide. She was only present to make the book longer to make more money. The rest of the story was just as good as always.

Really Clive, you need to stop bringing in outside characters. I say this because the NUMA team are a close knit family, their members are already tied together by close friendships, and the entire team works like a well oiled machine.

Any new character like Agent Bennett just causes that engine to stall and stutter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great book summary. I think you are right about the extra characters. Cussler has used them in prior novels to his disadvantage. I wonder if this is Dirk Cussler's writing which may not be the same as