Saturday, February 08, 2014


(An Isaac Bell Adventure)
By Justin Scott
Character created by Clive Cussler
Berkeley Books
420 pages

Every single time I finish a new Isaac Bell book by Justin Scott, I feel both satisfied and sad.  Satisfied in that Scott has one again entertained me with his exploits of the turn-of-the-century Van Horn Detective Agency’s chief detective; sad that I now have to wait for the next one.

The real joy of this series is its setting in history at a time when science and technology were altering the world on such a grand scale; it truly was an age of marvels and wonders.  In the midst of all these remarkable achievements, as is always the case, the eternal war between good and evil continued to rage.  While wondrous inventions made the lot of mankind easier, lessening the burden of daily toil, it also provided men of power with the incredible tools to subjugate less advanced nations.

Imperialism was on a crash course with democracy and a World War loomed just over the horizon.  This is the era of Isaac Bell and the love of his life, Marion.  In “The Thief,” we are happy attendants at their wedding aboard the magnificent ocean liner, the Mauretania.  At the same time, Bell fatefully comes to rescue of two scientists about to be kidnapped by German spies.  He soon learns that the men have developed a new process that will make talking motion pictures possible.  As Marian is a director of silent movies, she quickly educates her new husband on the importance of such a device and how it could revolutionize the media.  Still, Bell is puzzled as to why the Imperial German Government is so obsessed with possessing what he sees as a mere entertainment device.

Before the ship can reach the docks of New York, the older inventor is murdered by a German spy known as the Acrobat leaving only his young protégé with the knowledge of how to produce the new “talking” film machines.  Bell vows to product the young man and escorts him to small town in California called Hollywood.  Along the way Bell has to stop several attempts to kidnap the inventor, all orchestrated by the Acrobat.  Although filled with authentic movie history set pieces, Scott keeps the action moving flawlessly leading up to a fantastic climax confrontation between Bell and the Acrobat you don’t want to miss.  Thumbs way up on another great Isaac Bell novel.


Scott D. Parker said...

I am with you on the Isaac Bell books. I really, really enjoy them. I'm a tad behind because, frankly, I don't want to burn through them and be forced to wait a year for a new book. I've read the first three. I tried Cussler's Fargo series (The Tombs) but was underwhelmed. Are they good and I just got a bad book? And what do you think of the Austin series?

Ron Fortier said...

Hi Scott, I like the Austin series, sort of a Dirk Pitt cousin type of action. Think Cussler first introduced him when he saw Pitt was getting older, so Austin became the new kid on the action block. Some fine adventures. I've yet to try the Fargo series. Too many books, too little time. Thanks for your comment and reading the review.

Greg Daniel said...

Just finishing this one up now. The Isaac Bell series may be my favortie one out there today. True confession time: despite being an avid action/adventure/pulp fan forever, I had never read a Clive Cussler book until this series; I actually avoided them.

Ron Fortier said...

Hi Greg, lots of my reader friend often avoid popular best selling series in the search of the more unique and original out there. Whereas I have always enjoyed Clive's Dirk Pitt series, the historic background of the Bell series makes it my favorite of his easily.

Scott D. Parker said...

For the sake of asking: why do you think readers avoid popular best-selling series like the Cussler ones? I have read only two, but that's not an avoidance, just a "I like to space out books of the same series."

Ron Fortier said...

Scott, I think readers avoid getting locked into any series, really. There are so many great writers out there, once you start following a particular series, it is easy for it (or them) to suddenly become the ONLY things you read. So for some readers, it is more fun sampling lots of different, stand along books.