Havana Storm: A Dirk Pitt Novel
HAVANA STORM is Book 23 in the bestselling adventure series starring Dirk Pitt. Clive Cussler and his son, Dirk, collaborate with a rapidly moving story that barely allows the reader to breathe between chapters.
Off the coast of Havana, Cuba, in 1898, a Cuban oarsman rows his passenger to the safety of a large battleship, the USS Maine, carrying their cargo to safety. Dr. Ellsworth Boyd, a Yale University professor and researcher, carefully guarded his thick wooden crate from capture by the Spanish militia, who wished to confiscate his find. Instead, he boarded the USS Maine and found safety with the Americans. That night, Boyd, unable to sleep, strolls alongside the outer deck when he sees a fishing skiff towing a raft or crate, bumping it into the bow of the Maine. A geyser of water sprays near the bow, followed by a titanic explosion. Before Boyd can reorient himself, he watches three men leap aboard the deck. He limps back to his crated relic, hoists a shovel for protection, and lands a blow on one of the trio, but is shot by Rodriguez, their leader. Boyd’s last is of his stolen crate, wedged on the enemy’s aft deck, steaming toward the harbor entrance.
A century later, 20 miles off the coast of Jamaica, a native fisherman and his nephew right their small vessel, the Javina, following a deep underwater rumble that causes a thunderous wave to lift them upward. Three vessels bear toward them: a large exploration ship, an orange crew boat and an ocean barge. The young fisherman confronts them about killing the tuna, but crewmen from the larger ship fire 40 mm grenades onto their open deck, fire soon vaporizing its wheelhouse, and then sinking the old Javina.
"Present-day oceanography, ancient archaeological discoveries and the stubborn refusal of the Pitt family to overcome tragedy make for a magical read for Clive Cussler fans."
A month later, in July 2016, Dirk Pitt, Director of the National Underwater and Marine Agency, receives word from his team mapping activity in the Caribbean that a growing dead zone has developed, crossing zones from northwest of Jamaica, past the Cayman Islands to near the western tip of Cuba. Chemical runoff from the Mississippi River basin creates explosive growth of algae that depletes oxygen levels and kills marine life. Widespread dead zones have recently popped up. The disturbances could signal a larger environmental hazard than the BP oil spills not long ago.
Early into the book, the Cusslers introduce an entire cast of characters --- some major, others minor --- but each with a role toward bringing evidence to a satisfying conclusion. Pitt’s grown twins, Dirk and Summer, marine specialists in their own right, are diving off the coast of Mexico. Dr. Eduardo Madero, anthropology professor at the University of Veracruz, invites them to explore a partially excavated seafloor site he is working. Coming to the surface, Summer bumps across a rock ledge and scoops up a ceramic container, which she hands to Dr. Madero. Had she discovered an old box of cigars? Scraping away silt, Madero reveals a bright green pattern of inlaid blue and green stones in the shape of a bird. The blue hummingbird is significant to the ancient Nahuatl tribe, the box top opening to reveal ancient pages of a codex. When interpreted, it tells a story of ancient warriors traveling over water in a dugout longboat to hide a stone fragment from Spanish conquistadores. The route they took ended near Tula, in a cave long covered by water when the Zimapan Dam was built in the 1990s.
Soon the twins travel to the area depicted in the codex, dive into deep waters under a high bluff, beneath which wash waters stream into a large reservoir. They drop into an ancient fire pit, open to them through rocky juttings in a cave. Beneath the ash, Summer uncovers a large stone with the carved head of a bird surrounded by stylized glyphs from the codex, an ancient Aztecc stone.
Summer and Dirk are called on to join the NUMA crew to help their father identify the sources of the mysterious dead zones increasingly found in international waters. Reluctant to leave the Mexican sites, they plan to return later to aid Dr. Madero in his digs. But now, duty calls to far-flung dangers near Havana and closer association with Cuban militants then ever anticipated.
Underwater exploration for oil, kidnap, murder and violence on the high seas are the monster difficulties faced by the entire Pitt family, NUMA crews and piracy when the stakes are high for both the Cuban and American governments. Harmless water-sampling by Pitt’s scientists leads to encounters with bloodthirsty men whose greed surpasses reality. Castro’s brother, Raoul, even becomes a player when the pieces fit together.
Incredible story-crafting brings multiple messy plots together. Present-day oceanography, ancient archaeological discoveries and the stubborn refusal of the Pitt family to overcome tragedy make for a magical read for Clive Cussler fans.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 12, 2014