There are few literary pleasures greater than relaxing on a Sunday
afternoon with a cool drink and reading a new Clive Cussler novel.
Cussler is methodically constructing a parallel universe wherein a
bunch of can-do guys are solving the world's problems with
technology, money and intestinal fortitude. Cussler's first and
still foremost creation is Dirk Pitt, whose adventure begat the
NUMA Files, and now with GOLDEN BUDDHA he presents his always loyal
and ever-growing cadre of readers with the first novel of what he
is calling the Oregon Files.
The Oregon and its captain, Juan Cabrillo, were first
introduced by Cussler in FLOOD TIDE. Pitt needed some assistance
and Cussler breathed life into a ship that was a rusting wreck on
the outside and packed with ahead-of-its-time equipment on the
inside. It is available to any government that can afford it for
intelligence gathering, transporting, or basically any job that for
whatever reason cannot be done by other means.
The mission of the Oregon in GOLDEN BUDDHA is quite
straightforward: expel the Red Chinese government from Tibet and
reinstall the Dalai Lama, the rightful spiritual ruler of that
country, to his homeland. No big deal … all in a week's work.
To facilitate this mission, however, the Oregon must recover
the revered Golden Buddha. Missing for years, the Golden Buddha has
been sold at a clandestine auction to an unprincipled
multimillionaire. What he is unaware of is that an equally
unprincipled American software designer is planning to steal it
from his as well. Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon of
course are planning to steal the antique artwork from both of these
gents, literally out from under their noses. I'm not telling any
secrets out of turn when I say that they're going to do it. It is
HOW they do it --- with Cussler and Dirgo accounting for every
detail down to its last nuance --- that makes GOLDEN BUDDHA such
But that's only half of the book! The team still has to get the
Golden Buddha back to Tibet, get the Chinese out and the Dalai Lama
in. How the team attempts to accomplish this produces a textbook
maneuver in empire building. This aspect of GOLDEN BUDDHA almost
suffers by comparison with the acquisition end, but nonetheless
provides a spellbinding look at diplomacy and the way that the
world probably works.
Even with all of this, GOLDEN BUDDHA wouldn't be half the fun it is
without all of the toys it features. As always, Cussler, with an
able assist from Dirgo, ups the geewhiz quotient exponentially with
each turn of the page. Your favorite gadget will always be the one
you just finished reading about. You will remain fickle, like a dog
in a meathouse, until the last page.
Cussler, with the Dirk Pitt series and the NUMA books already
going, would seem to be unable to maintain his present pace, even
with assistance. GOLDEN BUDDHA demonstrates however that he is just
getting warmed up, and probably won't stop until he becomes a genre
unto himself. Recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011