Thriller Review: Mirage by Clive Cussler

Although I've always been a huge Dirk Pitt fan - Raise the Titanic was one of the first 'adult' novels I ever read - I've hesitated to check out any of Clive Cussler's other series. Last year I finally got around to checking out the Fargo Adventures, with The Tombs catching my eye with its promise of archaeologists, secret historical sites, and hidden tombs - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This year it's The Oregon Files wooing me deeper into Cussler's shared universe, with Nikola Tesla and the Philadelphia Experiment convincing me to give Mirage a read. It's not quite up to Dirk Pitt standards, but it was certainly a solid techno-thriller.

While Juan Cabrillo has a touch of Dirk Pitt to him, he's much closer to a Jack Bauer, Mitch Rapp, or even a James Bond. He's strong, skilled, and extraordinarily well armed, with an endless supply of funds, arms, and technology behind him. He's the Chairman of The Oregon, one of the most advanced ships to ever sail the seas, but which looks like a rusted old freighter. The Corporation that own it is a government sanctioned private security firm that performs search and rescue ops, salvage jobs, and covert infiltrations into war-torn countries.

The story kicks off with the rescue of a high-profile Russian prisoner from the coldest, most inhospitable gulags in all the world. It's a well-orchestrated daring escape that almost succeeds. Before he takes his last breath, however, Yuri Borodin offers up a few cryptic clues that lead Cabrillo and team on a frantic chase around the world to stop a corrupt Russian official from loosing dangerous experimental technology on the world. Along the way we speculate quite a bit about Tesla's experiments, explore some rational explanations for the infamous Philadelphia Experiment, and quite literally bring the US to the brink of war with China.

It's a fast-paced tale, full of adventure and excitement, with some intriguing scientific and historical tidbits to hold it all together. There are, of course, last-minute escapes from impossible situations, but it all works. Nothing strains the bounds of credibility too much, with even the technology coming across as plausible, and Cabrillo is certainly a strong enough hero to lead a new franchise.

Hardcover, 401 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Putnam Adult