Monday, October 22, 2012
Book Review: Tombs by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Review source: Library
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Fourth in the Fargo Adventure suspense series revolving around Sam and Remi Fargo, wealthy treasure hunters with a reputation for success.
What a disappointment! I have to wonder if Cussler had anything to do with writing this other than putting his name on the cover. It could be unfair of me to put the onus on Perry, but of all the Cusslers I've read, this is one of the very few that have appalled me in the writing sense.
The story idea is terrific and great fun. It's execution is just that. Killing it with words. A lack of them. And a lack of finesse, development, complexity...I feel like I've read a children's primer that is somehow aimed at adults.
The chunk in which Tibor questions the Fargos about their intentions in his country and we get the info dump. And it reads like a dump of background history only with "Sam said" and "Remi said" in front of it.
The professor is kidnapped. No worries, just follow the script and he'll be rescued. The ease of the rescue was pathetic. Pick up a dog, track his scent...I thought I was on a ride at Disneyland.
Then there's the entire premise of the story. Finding the lost tombs or burials of Attila the Hun. It was as easy as a children's scavenger hunt. Clues popped up as regular as a metronome and within hours they were deciphered. The only real time it took on these hunts was the travel time to get there. A board game would take longer.
It was irresponsible of Sam and Remi to put down their toys and run off to play with someone else. Especially when they had already committed to being there. Yes, their reasons were good, but Cussler/Perry could have written the transition better and not left me feeling as though I were reading about a couple of children suffering from ADD.
There are some interesting bits of history about the events of the time that affected Attila's choices. An interesting tidbit about the founding of Venice. I wonder if it's true? Sam and Remi do have a few nice meals.
Cussler/Perry try to build in some tension by allowing Bako to find a few graves although the Fargos quickly change that. The kidnapping almost felt like karmic justice for Remi being so dismissive. Although I can't believe Sam was so slack about her security that he wasn't paying attention. All the mouthing off that Cussler/Perry do about how prepared the Fargos are to defend themselves is contradicted by their actions. The emotions the Fargos experience in this part are so nebulous and yet Sam and Remi should both be terrified. Instead it's rather ho-hum. Even the CIA is amazingly accommodating about Sam's running off.
Interesting that this is the first time the "CC" character that usually appears in any of Cussler's books shows up with a companion as well as a Tucker automobile. Hmmmm, what is happening in Cussler's private life…?
Ooh, interesting theory about why Rome and Ruga chose Attila as the hostage. Nice bit of credit giving at the end. The battle at the La Jolla house is certainly interesting. Anyone concerned about home security will be interested in reading this bit. It does reiterate what Gin Blanco points out in her story in Widow's Web in the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep. Pull up the drawbridge!
It starts as so many of Cussler's stories do with a prologue of events in the past. In this case, we get a peek into Attila the Hun's death and its aftermath. Enough that we know what Professor Fischer discovered in that field in Hungary and why it is so important to keep it quiet.
Naturally, the first thing one does when one is trying to keep an archeological site secret is call in people who are notorious for their successful treasure hunts. And so it begins with the chasing, hunting, and battles as treasure is sought, found, and battled over in a tug of war that is both mental and physical.
It's a grand way to see the hidden gems of Europe.
Sam and Remi Fargo are fascinated by history and the sale of their scanner company allows them to indulge their interest. Unfortunately, the treasures they have found in the past make them a couple of interest to criminals interested in getting rich without effort. The interest has been intense enough that both Sam and Remi have taken a wide variety of classes in self-defense.
The Fargos employ several people who live and work at their La Jolla home: Sela Wondrash is the primary researcher and Wendy and Pete are the junior researchers.
Professor Albrecht Fischer teaches classic archeology at Heidelberg and is fascinated by the Romans. Dr. Enikö Harsányi and Dr. Imre Polgár both teach at Szeged University. Dr. Monika Voss is the regional director of the National Office of Cultural Heritage.
Tibor Lazar is a taxi driver in Szeged in Hungary with lots of relatives and friends. János is Tibor's brother. Paul is a cousin who speaks Italian. Zoltán is a very protective German shepherd belonging to one of Tibor's relatives. Nurin is the driver the Fargos hire in Kazakhstan.
Sergio Boiardi is with the Tutela Patrimonio Culturale of the Carabinieri in Naples. I do like him, but it's too bad that Cussler/Perry give him such lousy dialog!
Ray Holbert is an archeologist salvaging the remains of a sunken village off the coast of Louisiana and he's grateful for the Fargos' help. Dave Carmody owns the boat the Fargos are renting while they salvage dive in Louisiana. Carl Hagar is with Diplomatic Security at the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
Consolidated Enterprises is too interested in the Fargos' movements and have a reputation for swooping in.
Arpad Bako is from a Hungarian family known for their greed and flexibility. They flow from side to side, picking up with whoever is in power and stamping down on anyone around them. Bako believes he's at least a spiritual descendant of Attila. Etienne Le Clerc is a French drug dealer in France who is associated with Bako. Sergei Poliakoff is another of Bako's associates with a criminal empire in Russia.
THe cover is all greens and golds with the wooden chests of treasure relating to this story and the jungle-like plants surrounding the boxes that do not relate. There weren't any jungles or rain forest-like areas where the Fargos were exploring. But then the disconnect suits the rest of the story.
The title is what it's all about---The Tombs. All of them belonging to Attila the Hun or someone in his family.