Review: Cussler's 'Fire Ice' lukewarm at best
(CNN) -- The formula for a Clive Cussler novel is simple: three parts adrenaline and one part water. His latest novel, "Fire Ice," written with mystery author Paul Kemprecos, is an earnest attempt to replicate the formula. But something's missing.
The novel is the third entry in the "NUMA Files" series, a spin-off of Cussler's wildly popular Dirk Pitt books. It features adventurer Kurt Austin, leader of the Special Assignments team for NUMA, a government bureau that apparently exists only to give Austin and Pitt gainful employment.
Like Pitt, Austin is adept at sailing, diving, flying and fighting. But in the final analysis, Kurt Austin is no Dirk Pitt. The menace he faces in "Fire Ice" is the sort of challenge his colleague would dispatch before breakfast.
Remorseless, evil depths
A guy plans to overthrow the government of Russia by claiming the crown of the Romanovs. He's also planning to destroy the United States in the process.
Cussler's prose rarely rises above the level of serviceable. But inexplicably, the addition of Kemprecos -- an award-winning mystery writer -- has made it even worse.
"The Black Sea," they write, "was a big puddle of dead water, but Austin knew that an abyss with far more reason to be feared was the remorseless evil that lurked in the depths of the human mind. Austin shivered ..."
So does the reader.
Flat characters in exotic locales
To their credit, Cussler and Kemprecos have assembled the ingredients for a decent adventure tale. The plot to destroy America is particularly intriguing.
Unfortunately, the final result proves to be less than the sum of its parts, largely because there's virtually no character development. Even the action sequences are predictable, despite exotic locales ranging from Istanbul to the decks of the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston Harbor.
With a title like "Fire Ice," the reader can reasonably expect the story that is alternately fiery and chilling. Instead, Cussler and Kemprecos provide a tale that limps between lukewarm and tepid.
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