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The Wrecker (Isaac Bell)

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Clive Cussler

Set in 1907, the rousing second thriller to feature detective Isaac Bell (afterThe Chase) from bestseller Cussler and Scott pits Bell against the Wrecker, who's been destroying trains and railroad facilities around the country for no apparent reason. … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Clive Cussler
Publisher: Putnam Adult
1 review about The Wrecker (Isaac Bell)

Could very well be the best Cussler has done.

  • Feb 18, 2010
I admit to being a fan of Cliive Cussler. His plots are typically outrageous, his characters border on the cartoonish and it generally requires a willful suspension of belief to finish one of his books (frequently written with a co-author). Believe it or not, none of the foregoing is criticism. It is simply the truth of the matter.

Cussler's saving grace is that his novels are filled with history, facts and action. The plotting is always intricate and the heroes find themselves up against really smart bad guys and always prove themselves to be a bit smarter, sometimes with only a second to spare.

In "The Chase", Cussler introduced a new hero: Issac Bell of the Van Dorn Detective Agency. Do I have to tell you that Issac Bell is a master detective? A late 19th / early 20th Century detective whose work brings him in close contact with the technological marvel of the day, the railroad with its great engineering feat, such as massive locomotives, civil engineering triumphs, exploitation of the telegraph and so on.

"The Chase" was exciting and, if you have the time and interest, should be read before "The Wrecker". It is not a necessity, but I think it will add to your enjoyment of the character.

Issac Bell is handsome, of course, brilliant, well-educated (Yale), wealthy (his father controls a big bank), at home in high society, a master of disguise, skilled with all manner of weapons - but, with due credit to Cussler and co-author Justin Scott, not overdrawn. (Cussler has a real talent for taking his heroes to the edge of being comic book caricatures, but not passing over the boundary.)

Bell is called in to stop a series of possible attacks against the Southern Pacific Railroad. It isn't immediately clear if a series of incidents are simply accidents or the results of attacks by union agitators, anarchists or other enemies of capitalism, the railroads in general or the Southern Pacific and its President Osgood Hennessy. The speculation quickly resolves itself in a hunt for "The Wrecker", an individual of considerable talent who enlists various confederates for his criminal enterprise - and then kills them so he cannot be identified. The Wrecker also seems to have planned his moves well in advance of their execution. But The Wrecker's motives remain obscure.

The reader learns early on who The Wrecker is and much of the suspense comes from Bell's meticulous pursuit of the villain, with his every move.

The plot twists and turns on every page and the action is unrelenting. Often Cussler lets his plotting and action get out of hand: not this time.

The story opens, as did "The Chase", with Issac Bell in his later years taking care of one more detail in the case. A single flashback takes us into the main story, set this time in 1907.

I don't like to disclose any details of a story for fear of depriving the reader of any pleasure - and in "The Wrecker", the pleasure of unfolding details is immense.

Cussler and Scott keep throwing new logs on the fire. It is possible that they could have reduced the number of dilemmas facing our hero by one or two, but the reality is the authors do not fail the reader: the action is non-stop and, ultimately, very satisfying.

There's some light romance along the way which does not get in the way of the story. There's a lot of history about the railroads and their development, which adds to the story. Ultimately, "The Wrecker" is pure adventure, a great thriller. I think it is Cussler's best work and, as far as I can tell, I've read all his books.

This one takes the cake.


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