DEVIL’S GATE is the newest addition to Clive Cussler’s Kurt Austin adventure series. This crash-speed novel, co-written with Graham Brown, takes our hero, along with his NUMA Special Assignments Team, from offshore Africa to the Azores and into ocean depths they have not entered before. Somalian pirates, known to cruise these waters for international bounty in the present day, appear to have begun a dangerous new venture --- that of kidnap and destruction. Their latest action is the sinking of a Japanese cargo ship in the eastern Atlantic, near the Azores. The pirate boat explodes, sinking to the ocean depths to rest in a large underwater graveyard, previously unknown. Austin, Joe Zavala, Paul and Gamay Trout, already in the area, rush to investigate the pirate boat’s explosion. They begin an adventure that will bring the entire world to the brink of global war and destruction.
"In the tradition of former Austin adventures, Cussler and Brown have included underwater action that makes your skin crawl with fear for their safety."
The story begins in 1951 when an American TWA Constellation, carrying a Russian defector as passenger, leaves an airstrip in Santa Maria on the Azores, bound for the United States. Riddled by gunshots while still on the ground, the crew drags the Russian onto the aircraft and speeds into the air. Powering through a wild storm successfully, the pilot works against impending engine failure, then a hit by lightning. A frantic “Mayday” call precedes the airplane’s descent into black Atlantic waters. This tragedy will be uncovered in 2011 when Austin and his crew discover its final resting place on the ocean floor.
In 2011, in Geneva, scientific technician Alexander Cochrane is kidnapped from the street on a snowy January evening to port unknown. Will he play a vital role in the deadly drama to unfold in waters off the shore of Africa? Next, in June 2012, we see a Japanese oil tanker, the Kinjara Maru, steaming toward Gibraltar but straying off course by 500 yards. Captain Nordegrun, whose young wife is a passenger below, adjusts course and turns control over to his mate. He notes another ship approaching rapidly and, simultaneously, lights blowing ship wide. Before he can react, he is hit by burning equipment, his sinuses rupture and he falls to the deck. The unidentified ship still follows, lit up like “St. Elmo’s Fire.” The captain’s wife remains below, at the mercy of men who soon board her husband’s ship.
The NUMA crew sees the strange fiery apparition on the horizon, identifying it as a ship on fire. When Austin’s ship, the Argo, reaches the burning vessel, he discovers a sinister twist to the situation. The cargo ship is overrun with heavily armed pirates, and rescue takes on an entirely new shape.
Austin is soon to become re-acquainted with an old nemesis, Andras, a vile killer with no conscience. The hijacker is for sale to the highest bidder, regardless of country affiliation. His allegiance now belongs to Djemma Garand, dictator leader of Sierra Leone in Africa. Like Hitler, his dream is to control the entire global economy, with destruction of the American continent. Andras, the murderous pirate, has joined Djemma in his diabolical scheme. But the two have not wagered into their plan the likes of an enemy like Austin.
In the tradition of former Austin adventures, Cussler and Brown have included underwater action that makes your skin crawl with fear for their safety. Cussler also provides us with a love interest for his hero, the outcome to be determined later. This is a pleasant return to earlier books he has written, with or without a co-author. Undoubtedly, Brown lends expertise and a path to quicker publication. On his own, though, Cussler can entertain and educate his followers with spine-tingling, non-stop action. DEVIL’S GATE screams for a follow-up immediately.