The Storm

The Storm CusslerTitle: The Storm
Author: Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
Publisher: Michael Joseph | Penguin
Published: 2012
Pages: 404
Series: The NUMA Files – Book 10

Since Clive Cussler became a brand, with at least five series on the go, I have had trouble keeping up with his output – or rather with the cadre of writers assembled to pump out each of the novels. That may not be such a bad thing, as the tales seem to be a bit hit and miss these days. The Storm is not the worst I have read, but it isn’t top tier Cussler either.

This adventure sees Kurt Austin, Joe Zavala, and the NUMA team investigating the disappearance of the catamaran crew researching temperature anomalies in the Indian Ocean. When the burnt hull of the catamaran is found adrift with no-one on board, Kurt and Joe, along with Paul and Gamay Trout, are dispatched to the Maldives to discover what happened.

Joining them on their quest, is Leilani Tanner, the sister of one of the missing catamaran crew. Their investigation leads them to a reclusive billionaire, Elwood Marchetti, who lives on a floating island. In the past, Marchetti designed a microbot colony to scour the ocean destroying garbage. However, his plan was never put into operation. But now it seems someone has stolen his design, and used it for nefarious purposes.

The villain of the piece is a power-crazed Bedouin named Jinn al-Khalif, who plans to change the face of the earth, by controlling the weather with his swarm of microbots. And of course, he intends to make a fortune by selling his services the highest bidder. Aiding Jinn in his scheme is his trusted adviser, Sabah, and Zarrina, a woman capable of practically anything.

The last few Cussler branded novels I have read have been slightly disappointing to me, and while it may be easy to say the co-writers aren’t ‘cutting it’, I don’t know if that is entirely true. Yes, there are unresolved plot threads, and some of the character motivations just don’t make sense. The thing is, I can’t be sure if they are poor writing, or if an over zealous editor has clipped a paragraph here and there, and in the process excised some key information that would have explained events more efficiently. Instead we get one passage where our hero, Kurt Austin seems like a complete dimwit, as he fails to comprehend what is right in front of his eyes. There’s another passage where Jinn becomes a mind reader. And don’t ask me what going on with the femme fatale, Zarrina. As it stands, her introduction doesn’t make an ounce of sense at all.

It may sound like I hated The Storm. I didn’t, generally speaking, it’s an entertaining action adventure tale, which displays a fair amount of creativity and imagination. And there were a few nice surprises thrown in. In closing, just a note for Egypt-o-philes, despite the cover art, this story doesn’t take place around the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza. However, Joe Zavala has a brief stopover at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, and quite a challenge before him at the Aswan Dam.

I’d give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

* * * * *

David James Foster writes under the pen name James Hopwood. He is the author of the retro-spy thrillers The Librio Defection, The Danakil Deception, and The Ambrosia Kill. His short fiction has been published by Sempre Vigil Press, Airship 27, Crime Factory, and Pro Se Publications.

Writing as Jack Tunney he also scribed King of the Outback, Rumble in the Jungle, and The Iron Fists of Ned Kelly, books in the popular Fight Card series.

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