Medusa: A Kurt Austin Adventure
In 1848, 18-year-old Caleb Nye lands himself a spot in seafaring
history in his adventure on a Pacific whaling vessel, the
Princess. On his first voyage, the Massachusetts farm boy
rows toward a gigantic whale in the lead harpoon boat. The
excursion has been fruitless, with seamen discouraged, fearful they
will return from the sea with no whale oil. Luck changes but with
great peril to the crew. The angry whale turns to attack, reeling
from the first harpoons that sting its hide. Finally, the harpooner
plunges a pointed lance deep into its flesh, killing the raging
beast. Before succumbing, it clenches the boat in its massive jaws.
Frantic, seamen race to right the boat. In a sea of blood, the
whale thrashes and finally dies. But Nye is missing, presumed
When the whale is cut open, movement from its stomach pouch
causes alarm. A human leg flops through the opening; Caleb has been
swallowed by the whale. Still alive, he is nursed to recovery. But
his wizened, bleached skin marks him an oddity for the rest of his
life. He remains on the ship when the entire crew takes shore leave
on Pohnpei, a lush island paradise, while goods are restocked.
Everyone, including Captain Dobbs, sickens with a deadly plague.
Soon, nearly beached on a hostile island, Caleb’s ghostly
appearance frightens the natives into providing liquid from wooden
buckets that emit a blue luminescence. The next morning, rashes
disappear, fevers and delirium break, and the sick men recover.
Years later, on his deathbed, Captain Dobbs gives Caleb the logbook
from that fateful voyage. Readers must heed the story in the above
described prologue to appreciate the maritime adventures of today,
told in chapters one and beyond.
A novel from the NUMA Files, Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos
has written a page-turner that cannot be laid aside easily. For the
government-run NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), Kurt
Austin and Joe Zavala conduct special assignments, this time in
waters of Micronesia. The Bathysphere 3 expedition will submerge a
diving bell to the ocean floor. Austin and biomedical researcher
Dr. Max Kane will ride the bell to photograph the habits and
habitat of rare jellyfish known as Blue Medusa.
Dr. Kane’s project, off the coast of Bermuda, has been to
synthesize a vaccine for protection against a lethal newly
discovered virus. The mysterious Blue Medusa holds the secret to
the cure, but extensive work has yet to produce a viable vaccine.
At present, China experiences an outbreak of the virus that
threatens to ravage the entire country. The disease possibly will
wreak more devastation than the pandemic of 1918.
Dr. Kane’s excursion with Austin into Neptune’s
underworld brings him away from his underwater lab off Bermuda. But
his team works feverishly toward their goal in his absence. Dr.
Song Lee, a brilliant Harvard-educated Chinese immunologist, joins
in their effort.
Underwater adventure engulfs the NUMA team along with
Kane’s group when renegade Asian gangsters invade the
peaceful blue Pacific waters. A diabolical plot threatens the
entire world, with pandemic death, monetary imbalance, political
instability and worldwide chaos. Their oxygen source removed, left
without a visible means to the surface, Austin and Dr. Kane are
marked men on the ocean floor. Austin’s entire crew must
coordinate to rescue him from death. Engineer Zavala will exert his
utmost mental resources to recover the lost bathysphere. Before
adventure’s end, history will provide them clues to save not
only their own lives but those of millions.
Cussler’s style is rapid, direct and entertaining.
Throughout I tried to determine which sections may have been
written by one of the authors. The idea is unimportant because the
words flow together easily, and one is entranced by the story and
players involved. Romantic nuance makes for emotional attachment to
both male and female characters. Underwater buffs will gain
knowledge of both historical and contemporary salvage tours of
oceans’ depths. Cussler is today’s patriarch of oceanic
adventure, boosted by Kemprecos’s collaboration, making
MEDUSA a must-read.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 6, 2011