A not-so marine focused adventure that returns to Dirk Pitt form.
Genre: Action, Adventure
No. of pages: 369
May 1914. Two diplomats hurry home by sea and rail, each carrying a document of world-changing importance. Then the liner Empress of India is sunk in a collision, and the Manhattan-Line express plunges from a bridge – both dragging their VIP passengers to watery oblivion. Tragic coincidence or conspiracy?
In the energy-starved, fear-torn 1980s, Dirk Pitt discovers that those long-lost papers could destroy whole nations, throwing him into his biggest challenge yet. Racing against hired killers, he launches his revolutionary deep-sea search craft and faces the horrors of the sea bed to hunt for the documents. ‘Night Probe’ has begun . . .
Another of Clive Cussler’s back catalogue under my belt. ‘Night Probe!’ was another international spy action adventure that tickled the childlike reader in me.
I did feel like the first half of the novel was paced slowly. The meticulous efforts to set up all the characters in the game, build the scene was fun to read; but I found myself putting the book down regularly because I wanted to get some story with Dirk Pitt in it, and get to the juicy parts of the story. While I appreciate the efforts to fill in all the threads of storyline that go into ‘Night Probe!’ I would have appreciated that some of this first half was compacted down and some scenes skipped over in favour of a backstory later in the novel.
We do see Dirk Pitt introduced earlier in the story than previous novels in this franchise, and you get a sense of Clive Cussler starting to hit his stride with the Dirk Pitt franchise. Honing the tone and writing style that is a trademark of these adventure novels.
The ending was cheese-ball city. But it always makes me smile – that James Bond/Indiana Jones style shtick that I love on the big screen translates well in this escapist fiction.
I particularly love the scientific elements, the history imbued in Cussler’s prose, and we definitely get it here. I particularly cherish all the maritime elements, and though there are two present in ‘Night Probe!’ this novel felt more like a land adventure and left me wanting.
We don’t get much of Al Giordino and their witty banter. There are only two women in the main storyline: one is killed for being an adulterer (and a villain), and the other falls in love with an antagonist, even though she is an intelligent, independent woman… it still feels all a little bit sexist. But I am getting a sense of a growing cultural ‘woke’ tone. Standard enjoyable fare.
As with most titles in this series, ‘Night Probe!‘ can be read as a standalone… a serial continuation in the Dirk Pitt universe.
Overall feeling: A return to form.
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