I love Clive Cussler. It’s been awhile since I’ve read him, and most of these I read early in high school, after finishing the Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton novels. I was just going to rate a lot of these offhand, but I decided that I’ll (slowly) re-read them in order to be more accurate.
Iceberg is the first hint at what is to come with the next book, Raise the Titanic!–over the top, crazy hijinks with our hero.From the frozen North Atlantic to Disneyland, Dirk Pitt takes us with him on a wild, unstoppable, relentless push toward justice. It’s not the most impressive of Cussler’s books, and they certainly get better as they go. It has its definite flaws.
Oh, the chauvinism. I shouldn’t be surprised, as Dirk Pitt is very much a neo-James Bond character. His stories are formulaic, but I’m OK with that, as the formula works, and works well. At the same time, it’s the “oh, she’s just a whiny, emotional female” that grates on me every once in a while. This doesn’t appear as much (to my recollection) in Cussler’s later books, so it’s not a constant irritation, but it detracts from the story quite often. It is very much a product of the time in which it was written, very much influenced by Ian Fleming‘s super-spy, and remains rather dated because of this. If you can get past it, know that it changes in a few novels, with the introduction of Congresswoman Loren Smith, Dirk Pitt’s flame and eventual spouse.
That being said, the action is solid, the characterization is interesting, albeit slightly archetypal macho (he does add greater depth in subsequent novels, but in the early ones, Pitt is just macho, smart crime fighting womanizer). Also, with the succeeding books, the stakes get higher, the bad guys more megalomaniacal, and the scope greater.