1950: The rusting hulk of a steam locomotive is raised from the depths of a Montana lake. Inside are three bodies, bloody clue to a fortune lost for over forty years . . .
1906: For two years, banks across the western United States have been living in terror of the 'Butcher Bandit'. This cold-blooded bank robber empties safes and murders all witness, vanishing without trace. In desperation, the US government calls in Isaac Bell, best detective in the country. From Arizona to Colorado to the streets of San Francisco during the great quake, Bell uses all his guile and ingenuity to catch up with the murderous Bandit.
But when Bell has him almost cornered - the Bandit turns really nasty. Suddenly the stakes have changed. Bell isn't just battling to get his man. He's fighting for his very survival.
About the Author
Clive Cussler is the author of over twenty-five internationally bestselling books, including the Dirk Pitt adventure series, the NUMA FILES novels and the Oregon Files Adventures.
He grew up in Alhambra, California. He later attended Pasadena City College for two years, but then enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War where he served as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer in the Military Air Transport Service. Upon his discharge, he became a copywriter and later creative director for two leading ad agencies. At that time, he wrote and produced radio and television commercials that won numerous international awards, one at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Cussler began writing in 1965 and published his first novel featuring Dirk Pitt in 1973. His first non-fiction work, The Sea Hunters, was released in 1996. Because of this work the Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University of New York considered The Sea Hunters in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in May of 1997. It was the first time since the College was founded in 1874 that such a degree was bestowed.
Cussler is the founder the National Underwater & Marine Agency, (NUMA), a non-profit organisation that dedicates itself to American maritime and naval history. In addition to being Chairman of NUMA, Cussler is a fellow in both the Explorers Club of New York and the Royal Geographic Society in London.
A noted collector of classic automobiles, Cussler owns 85 of the finest examples of custom coachwork and 50's convertibles to be found anywhere. They are garaged near Golden, Colorado. Today, Cussler divides his time between the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of Arizona.
Cussler takes a breather from his several ongoing series with this historical thriller set in the western states, circa 1906. The U.S. government hires the renowned Van Dorn Detective Agency and its equally renowned lead agent, Isaac Bell, to capture the bank robber known as the Butcher Bandit. The Butcher has gunned down 38 men and women and two children, leaving behind neither witnesses nor clues. Bell heads the manhunt and finally figures out the Butcher's true identity, which is when the real chase begins. Unfortunately, Cussler's style is patterned on the clunky dialogue ("I pray you catch the murdering scum") and improbable characters of the period's dime novels, and his in-depth research makes his descriptions sound like advertising. Once San Francisco gets hit by the 1906 earthquake and the principals climb aboard a pair of fire-breathing locomotives, the novel cranks up a head of steam and some high-speed thrills. (Nov.)
Dirk Pitt takes a vacation and Cussler gives us Isaac Bell, a detective with the Van Dorn Agency operating in the early years of the 20th century. This New York Times best seller begins with a contemporary discovery of an old railroad engine in a Montana lake and then takes listeners back to a time when the West was in its last throes of being considered "wild." Isaac is on the trail of a murderous bank robber who has earned the nickname "The Butcher Bandit" because of his habit of killing everyone who might be a potential witness. After an abortive attempt to lure the robber to Telluride, CO, Isaac comes into possession of clues that leads him to believe that the robber might indeed be another banker and that he might reside in San Francisco. The tale is typical Cussler, and while his florid prose might be the literary equivalent of warm milk, he is dependable and presents a darn good adventure story with plenty of twists, bad guys, and breathtaking action. Scott Brick does his usual outstanding job of narrating, not in a monotonous recitation but in a slow, almost laconic manner that captures the listener's attention even when characters "hiss" and "snarl" and villains are referred to as "dastardly." Cussler fans will welcome the arrival of Isaac, the new hero on the block, even as they await the next Dirk Pitt novel. Recommended. —Joseph L. Carlson
The smartest shamus on earth tracks the planet's cleverest lowlife in the latest to roll from the Cussler assembly line (Polar Shift, 2005, etc.). In 1906, they didn't come any nastier than the Butcher Bandit, who, when the book opens, has already racked up 38 kills, a goodly number of them women and children. He robs banks, murdering-remorselessly-any unfortunate who happens to be on the premises at the time. So adept at the work is he, we're told exhaustively, that he's commonly believed to be uncatchable. Which is why Isaac ("He always gets his man") Bell of the Van Dorn Detective Agency is assigned the case. But the Butcher Bandit is a slippery one indeed. Not only brilliant, audacious and cold-blooded beyond measure, he is also not the stuff of which bottom-feeders are usually made. For it turns out that the master criminal who has robbed banks all over the Southwest is actually a bank president himself. In San Francisco, the extremely solvent Cromwell Bank is a byword for respectability, its founder and chief executive a pillar of the community. That would be Jacob Cromwell, aka the much sought after Butcher Bandit. So how to explain Cromwell's deep, dark plunge into criminality? He loves the challenge, he says. There's also that new word, Bell explains to an understandably puzzled colleague, that psychology professionals are beginning to use: sociopath. At any rate, the game's afoot, the antagonists perfectly matched, with Cromwell convinced he can rob, kill and elude capture, and Bell promising not to rest "until I capture the man responsible for these hideous crimes."Thin characters, fat plot-holes, sluggish pacing and Cussler's signature clunky prose. First printing of 750,000
Series: Isaac Bell Ser.
Number Of Pages: 496
Published: September 2008
Dimensions (cm): 18.1 x 11.1 x 3.0
Weight (kg): 18.1