The Eye of Heaven: A Fargo Adventure
Clive Cussler adds to his arsenal of bestsellers with THE EYE OF HEAVEN, an adventure taking Sam and Remi Fargo from the bone-chilling Arctic Baffin Island to the hot, steamy landscape of Mexico.
Prior to arriving in the frozen northland, the couple completed inventory on relics and treasure discovered on a shipwreck off the Spanish coastal waters. Nearly finished with their work, they will turn the discovery over to the Spanish government to determine its historical significance. When Remi surfaces from her final dive, she hears a motor throttle down close to the shipwreck site and their own dive boat. While the expensive yacht seems harmless, she remains wary of it. Later that evening, Sam observes at least four divers entering the water from the suspicious yacht, fitted with headlights and night gear. Worried that the men below the surface are treasure-robbers, the Fargos dive and swim over to the yacht, climbing aboard to investigate their neighbors.
The British accent that greets them has an all-too-familiar ring. Janus Benedict is an old rival in the world of treasure hunters, but, unlike the Fargos, he is an unsavory charlatan driven by greed. Reginald, his villainous brother, acts on impulse, irregardless of consequences. The Benedicts will prove an evil undercurrent to Sam and Remi on future expeditions. When divers make off with ancient icons and Greek artifacts, Sam foils the getaway, retrieving the goods but unleashing a globe-circling revenge from Janus.
"THE EYE OF HEAVEN reads like a mystery/thriller with odd twists and turns.... Blake brings a new dimension to Cussler’s stories, and we can only hope that the two will collaborate again very soon."
Cussler and co-author Russell Blake depict the Fargos as generous both with money and scientific expertise. They enjoy fine food and drink that their lifestyle affords. Blake's addition to unique form allows expansion of the subtle wordplay between Sam and his wife, and the small nuances they have in common are plentiful in THE EYE OF HEAVEN. The two share a love of the archaeological discoveries they pursue, but also a deep personal regard for one another's safety. One appears to read the other's ideas and possible actions with uncanny clarity.
A new character is introduced between the Spanish trip and the Arctic exploration. The Fargos’ longtime researcher and girl Friday must undergo painful double hip surgery, putting her out of work for a lengthy recovery. Selma arranges for her niece, Kendra, to take over much of the procurement work she has done for years. Dubious but willing to give her a try, Sam and Remi allow her input. The arrangement seems to work well, but tiny questions pop up when the research part of the job involves the new girl.
In Baffin, the climate-monitoring study is sidetracked upon discovery of an ancient Viking ship that has been frozen intact inside a gigantic iceberg on the shoreline. What looks like part of the crew has been frozen in the hold of the vessel. The poor souls starved, then froze to death below the surface. The consensus is that the remainder of the Viking crew had gone ashore to forage for food or signs of human life but did not return. Along the hull, beside where the oarsmen would have sat, provided storage for a number of wooden chests. Alongside these chests was the shattered ship's mast, the obvious cause for an unplanned stoppage. Artifacts from the chests --- such as a carved obsidian statue, a painted clay bowl, a pounded copper mask and statues covered with glyphs --- pointed to a pre-Colombian-era artwork. Only a large Nordic Viking Runestone found deep in the ship's hold seemed in tune with the ship and crew's origins. Remi photographed all aspects and views of the items to be identified, studied and cataloged before they could be removed by the Canadian University archivists.
The Fargos are mystified by the unusual pieces of what points to a Mexican civilization known as Toltec, stories and myths of which abound in Mayan culture near Tulum, Mexico. They make arrangements to explore the possibilities that the Vikings had a connection to these treasures. But what exactly is it?
Intense research points to verification of a Toltec civilization led by Quetzalcoatl, a ruler with mysterious physical traits, far different from the Mayans and others in Mexico during that period. The Toltec leader, in rough drawings, stood quite tall and sported a beard. The Viking connection lures the Fargo team to locate Quetzalcoatl's resting place purported to contain jade, gold and "the Eye of Heaven."
The story continues but with another complication. Each time the Fargo team comes close to a discovery in the vast unexplored ruins near Mexico City, someone else lurks dangerously close, seeming to be a step ahead of them. Members of their own team or bought Mexican authorities could be the culprits. Suspicion covers a wide gamut, including Kendra.
THE EYE OF HEAVEN reads like a mystery/thriller with odd twists and turns. The reader can safely cheer for the Fargo couple to remain on top. Blake brings a new dimension to Cussler’s stories, and we can only hope that the two will collaborate again very soon.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on September 19, 2014