CLIVE CUSSLER – Night Probe!  Dirk Pitt #5.  Bantam, hardcover, 1981; paperback, 1982.

   After helping raise the Titanic last time out (*), what could there possibly be for Dirk Pitt to do for an encore? As America’s number one underwater super-agent, even he would seem hard pressed to come up with something to top that one.

   The year is 1989, far enough into the future for the United States to be realistically sinking slowly into bankruptcy, desperately in need of new sources of energy, and yet near enough to avoid being passed off as mere science fiction. Missing are two vitally needed copies of a treaty made with England in 1914, one that would have sold Canada to the United States to help finance the early stages of World War I, but lost to the pages of history by an amazing series of tragic accidents.

   One copy is in an ocean liner now residing at the bottom of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The other is somewhere on a train which met its doom on the very same day, crashing through a bridge crossing the Hudson River.

   Together, their twin disappearances mark one of the greatest vanishing acts of all time. (The treaty was secret. Why is it that hardly anybody remembers either disaster?) The President puts all his faith in Dirk Pitt to produce another miracle.

   Not to be caught napping, Britain calls out of retirement one of the most famous spies the world has ever known, just for the occasion. He is known as “Brian Shaw” in this book, but that won’t fool any of his many fans for. a minute. Reknown as both a ladies’ man and for his even more famous license to kill, “Shaw” proves he has lost none of his touch for either.

   In a word, Clive Cussler’s technical expertise in matters aquanautical is impressive, but if anything his. knack for telling a spell-binder of a story is even more so. Like the old penny-a-word pulpsters, or the directors of the great adventure serials of yesteryear, Cussler is a master of action, intrigue,. and romance (not necessarily in that order), and the pace is never allowed to slacken for a moment.

   If you missed the hardcover (Bantam, 1981), the paperback is now out. You could wait for the movie,  I suppose, but why? (**)

Rating: A

– Reprinted and slightly revised from The MYSTERY FANcier, September/October 1982.


(*) I was incorrect on this. There was another Dirk Pitt adventure between Raising the Titanic! and Night Probe!, that being Vixen 03.

(**) I was incorrect on this as well. There has been no movie made from this book. And surprisingly enough, given the popularity of the Dirk Pitt books, only two of them have been made into films: Raise the Titanic! (1980) and Sahara (2005).