Sunday, July 04, 2010

BOOKS: The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott

Sometimes you really do benefit from mistakes. I THOUGHT I was picking up Gabriel Hunt's Hunt at the Well of Eternity, a tome that had been well-reviewed as a fun and a quick read. The heft of The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott SHOULD have been a clue, but I've been operating a little out of sorts for awhile. As a result, I got a very, very pleasant surprise.

The Hunt for Atlantis is like new, fresh Clive Cussler. Cussler, who's work outside of the Oregon Files series, has been stagnating for more than a few years, even at his repetitive worst, is still worth my time. Come to think of it, the Isaac Bell books are still going good too. So, when an author comes along that reminds me of Cussler when he was still new and not appearing in his own books, I think that's something worth noting.

Nine Wilde comes from a family of archaeologists. Her parents were on the trail of hunting down Atlantis when they perished in the remote mountains of Tibet (which, as it turns out, makes a lot of sense later in the book). They didn't perish so much as get murdered by a brotherhood of whackos intent on keeping Atlantis buried wherever it might be for eternity. Nina carries on the family obsession and through more than little serendipity (required for thrillers, afterall), susses out where the fabled lost island might actually be. Which puts her square into the sights of the brotherhood. And like her parents, she's marked for elimination. Thanks to Eddie Chase, she survives first contact, not without a lot of derring-do. And it's off on a grand adventure.

More or less on the opposite side of the brotherhood are Kristian and Kari Frost, a father-daughter team of philanthropists from Norway, who are similarly obsessed with the search for Atlantis. Thus, we get a race from the two sides. One wants to find the legend-turned-truth and the other wants the legend to stay legendary OR be destroyed and buried. The settings include the deepest darkest equatorial regions of the Amazon and, once again, the peaks of Tibet, where the impromptu tomb of Nina's parents provides to be much, much more. The book ends in Norway for a slam-bang final that will send shivers down the spines of survivors of 9/11 in New York.

Like with Cussler, you get to a point with many, many pages left where you think the book could end, only to find yourself in the middle of a denouement. The last section, which turns the first part of the book on its ears, is, I admit, the weakest part of the book. But if you go with the flow (You've already accepted so much already) it makes for a good capping to a rollicking, MAJOR MOTION PICTURE type finale. Now, we have to be careful what we wish for. No Cussler project has ever, ever turned into a good pic. But I could SEE the action through to end of this book.

It's the start of a series. McDermott's already pumped out three or more more books where Nina and Eddie get after the legends of yore. I know I will be reading them.

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