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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Chase by Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler’s The Chase is a rousing yarn, filled with heroic, dashing heroes, and dastardly sneaky villains. The book opens in 1950. A locomotive is being lifted out of the murky cold depths of Flathead Lake in western Montana. Inside the locomotive are the remains of three men who died in it 44 years earlier. The real mystery is still in the bottom of the lake and as the divers attach cables to the remaining freight car to bring it up, the story opens in 1906.

The Butcher Bandit is terrorizing banks throughout the west. An evil sociopath, the Bandit robs banks, taking only the easy to carry cash, and leaves no living witness behind. He kills indiscriminately; men, women and even children, so no one can identify him. The US government wants bring his reign of terror to an end, so they bring in the best man they can find for the job, Isaac Bell. Bell is the James Bond of the early 20th century. Handsome, debonair, clever and independently wealthy, he won’t rest until the Butcher is brought to justice.

The mystery of the identity of the Butcher is solved quite early in the book. A cat and mouse game ensues in this very enjoyable tale. The book is often written in a way reminiscent of old time pulp novels; some passages are almost courtly with old-fashioned flowery language. The hero is beyond reproach in all ways, the love interest is a beautiful, graceful and intelligent woman, and the villain is simply a cold-hearted snake.

The concluding chapters include a wonderful chase between two trains, which would translate so well to the big screen, I’m surprised a producer hasn’t snapped it up already. Sometimes I finish a book, and think, “This would be a great movie.” The Chase would be a great movie.


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