Desert Isle Keeper
The Dirk Pitt Series
In real life, I am a quiet person, not the sort who runs off chasing action and adventure. Yet I am an unabashed adventure book junkie. When I read them, I can vicariously swashbuckle in a way I would not do in real life. My love of action stories started early. When I was a little thing, I devoured comic books, and not the Archie ones either – I wanted to read about super heroes who performed impossible deeds. When I was in the 5th grade I read Mutiny on the Bounty and then went on to Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, Captain Blood, Horatio Hornblower – I loved them all. Several years ago, I picked up an interesting looking book titled Dragon by someone named Clive Cussler whom I had not heard of before. The book looked intriguing, it featured a daring hero named Dirk Pitt who foiled the bad guys not once but many times and saved all mankind from a terrible fate. I read the book with slowly increasing delight and found out Dragon was part of a series. I checked them all out at the library, then happily read each and every one, and now I look forward to each subsequent story.
So are they good? Well, I’ll have to be honest. Clive Cussler has an ear of purest tin when it comes to writing dialogue and this is very evident when you listen to the books on tape. His characters don’t talk, they wisecrack, they expound, they posture and they stop the tale dead in its tracks while they explain how all their marvelous toys work, or give you the history of the Incan Empire. In short, the characters speak like no real person ever would. What I love about the books and what keeps me coming back again and again are the stories. Cussler has no peer for spinning complex plots that take Dirk Pitt and his trusty friends from NUMA (The National Underwater and Marine Agency) into tight situations against fiendish megalomaniacs all over the world.
The other thing I love about Cussler’s books are the characters. By now they are as stylized as the characters from a Japanese Noh play, and I wouldn’t have them any other way. There is Dirk Pitt – tall, with wavy black hair and “opaline green eyes,” his best friend Al Giordano – short, but strong as a bull and always with a wisecrack on his lips. Their boss is Admiral James Sandecker who thinks of them as his sons and has never figured out how Al gets into his private stash of cigars. There is Hiram Yeager, NUMA’s resident computer genius; Rudi Gunn, short, nerdy looking, brave as a lion and smarter than Hiram’s computers; and St. Julien Perlmutter, gourmand and owner of the finest maritime library in the universe. The only major female continuing character is Congresswoman Loren Smith – Dirk’s significant other. Loren is smart, beautiful and as capable as they come. She and Dirk care for each other and there is a deep bond between them, but they both know when it comes down to it, he is married to the sea. Dirk is not immune to the charms of the female sex, but he is not promiscuous. As Dirk said in one of the books, he is attracted to quiet, intelligent women.
The adventures that Dirk gets into are as complicated as can be. Over the course of his career he has raised the Titanic, found the lost library of Alexandria, discovered the Confederate treasury in the Sahara desert no less, recovered the lost gold treasure of the Incas and in his latest, he discovered Atlantis. All through the books, he has more adventures than a squadron of Indiana Joneses. Dirk has been chased, shot at, stabbed, beaten, blown up, walked across the floor of the ocean in a submersible suit, been given up for dead and otherwise had more mayhem committed against his person than almost anyone I can think of. In one of my favorites, Inca Gold, he is thrown into a river in a cave and has to float and swim 62 miles through this underground river, which is full of dangers, in pitch blackness, with a broken ankle, broken ribs and a bullet wound in his shoulder until he comes out in the Sea of Cortez. I have claustrophobia, and every time I read that passage I shiver.
The Dirk Pitt series is not in the least bit realistic. When you come right down to it, they books are wish fulfillment adventures for big boys, (and women adventure junkies like me). But I love these books, the more escapist and entertaining the better, and they are perfect reading for anyone who ever dreamed of action, adventure and derring-do, but who would prefer not to get hurt.
Here are all the titles so far in the series:
|The Mediterranean Caper
Raise the Titanic
Dirk Pitt Revealed