My goal is to eventually make my way through all of these must-read titles. These books have been around for so long and read by so many that another generic review from your average reader seems unnecessary. Instead, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what some of the experts have to say about the stories that paved the way for their own success… and how their perspective compares to my own reading experience. Today, I’m looking at Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic.
The President’s secret task force has developed an unprecedented defensive weapon that relies on an extremely rare radioactive element – and Dirk Pitt has followed a twisted trail to a secret cache of the substance. Now, racing against brutal storms, Soviet spies, and a ticking clock, Pitt begins his most thrilling mission – to raise from its watery grave the shipwreck of the century…
Grant Blackwood calls Dirk Pitt a “larger-than-life protagonist,” and he certainly is that… so what better case for the maritime adventurer to take on than one that centers around one of the most famous shipwrecks in history?
Cussler’s novels before this one had been, not exactly unpopular, but quite different from what readers were used to. The exploits of the fictional National Underwater and Marine Agency didn’t have quite the same urgency and relevance as the typical Cold War thrillers of the day. So… “how to fuse Dirk Pitt and his swashbuckling adventures with a topic that would grab the attention of the reading public”? By making the salvage of the Titanic the backdrop for a Cold War conflict.
The fusion of ideas worked; “Raise the Titanic… [made] Cussler, Dirk Pitt, and NUMA household names to readers across the country.” But what about the book itself?
I’ve read only a few of the Dirk Pitt novels, but in my limited experience, I’d easily call this one the best. The mystique of the Titanic is what really makes the story. Of course, now that we know the ship wasn’t resting intact on the ocean floor, the story could never have unfolded the way it does… but does it really matter? It’s an entertaining work of fiction either way.
In the end, Clive Cussler will never be my favorite thriller writer. He’s a little too over-the-top for me. But he’s certainly been an influence in the genre, and if you’re going to check him out, this book would be a great one to start with.
Twenty-nine down, seventy-one to go…
Next month I’ll be discussing “Rear Window” and “The Most Dangerous Game.”