A Phoenician longboat is depicted on the cover of this novel. This adventure thriller sees the NUMA team* looking for an ancient Phoenician statue, that was stolen from a Baghdad museum in 2003. The statue was of a Navigator from 900BC holding what appeared to be a compass, at a time when compasses were supposedly unknown, having come into existence as a navigation tool with the Chinese in the 11th century. There is an idea in the book that the Phoenicians with their great maritime knowledge were able to sail to America and it is in America that the legendary King Solomon Mines can be found.
This is the first Clive Cussler novel I’ve read and it seems a mix of elements like a James Bond script mixed with some DaVinci Code rewriting of history (Thomas Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis make an appearance). There is Balthazaar, a James Bond style baddie, with enormous wealth and plenty of hired thugs. The hero, Kurt Austin, is a little implausible, we first meet him as he saves a cargo ship heading on a collision course with an oil rig, he just happened to be in the area catching icebergs at the time. There is a damsel in distress, Carina Mechadi, an Italian with Ethiopian ancestry which links her with the Queen of Sheba, no less. Carina studied at the University of Milan and the London School of Economics, before becoming an investigator for UNESCO tracking down stolen antiquities, she of course is a stunning beauty, who naturally falls for the charms and cordon bleu cooking skills of our hero.
It is an enjoyable read, if rather implausible. There are some interesting set pieces, like when Kurt and Balthazaar have a medieval style joust over a canyon. There is even a plug for the author’s motor museum and Kurt’s colleague, Zavala, has a submersible designed like a 1950s Corvette, I guess a Lotus Esprit would have been just too much like James Bond.
My rating: 4 out of 5
- US National Underwater and Marine Agency