Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BOOKS: The Kingdom by Clive Cussler

This is the second of back-to-back reviews of Clive Cussler books today, getting ready for a skip day tomorrow. Read some of the details in the review below on Cussler's The Jungle.

As Yogi Berra was fond of saying, "It's like deja vu all over again." That was the feeling when I loaded up Cussler's The Kingdom mere days after reading The Jungle. The story starts in ancient China ....

That's what threw me. Didn't I just read that prologue in a Cussler book? Heck, it even stars itinerant Italians helping (at swordpoint) a Chinese warlord. This time, building what would be the world's first war-dirigible. Ahhh, that was different. In the other book it was a raygun. On to the rest of the story.

Which stars, this time out, the husband and wife treasure-hunter team of Sam and Remi Fargo. This is their third outing and the best so far. After two slightly above average books, this one is a solid five star book.

Despite Cussler inserting himself again. Sure, it's coached as the helpful stranger who's initials might be CC, but he's in there. Aaaaarrrrrgghhh!!! I know he knows he's ticking off a percentage of his readership. And it's lazy writing to get the heroes into an impossible situation with the deus ex machina of having him pop up to render assistance. But it's brief and you have to stomach that to get to the good stuff.

And the good stuff is an outstanding mystery involving Nepalese locations and history. There's an American blowhard and his murderous family to offer as villains. And some interesting cave-spelunking. The dirigible re-appears at just the right time for a wild ride down a mountain. And as they say in Nepal, they grow mountains big there. This is NOT a tumble down a gently sloping embankment, landing in a grassy meadow.

In a way, that very sequence is why Cussler's books are great and the movies of his books range from horrible to mediocre. You simply can't film what Cussler and co-author Grant Blackwood describe for you in words.

Ahhhh, but what a picture I have in my mind's eye.

Choosing between The Jungle and The Kingdom, I think I prefer The Kingdom, despite the you-know-what. Of course, you don't have to make the choice. Get both and you'll have enough bed-time reading for a week of top-notch thrillers.

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