“A great adventure thriller which spins from one dizzying climax to another … Riveting.”



What is about?

Although released 6th in the Dirk Pitt adventure series, this book was actually the first written. However Cussler was unsatisfied with it’s content and decided to hold it back. Following the success of the Pitt franchise the Author finally bowed to public demand and released Pacific Vortex as the 6th instalment.

Cussler writes in the foreword that he feels the novel is not up to his usual standard and should be viewed as more or less a history lesson into Pitt’s past.

We meet Pitt having a lazy day relaxing on the beach, he spots a luminous container in the water and dives into the strong current in order to retrieve it. Inside he finds a final communication from the stricken submarine Starbuck, immediately realising the importance of the document he takes it direct to Admiral Hunter. What follows is a mission into uncharted waters to find the true history of the last hours of the nuclear submarine. In typical adventure style, similar to Jack Higgins and Ian Fleming, we follow the strong character of Pitt as he faces not just the dangers of the ocean, but also a ruthless and cunning enemy. Expect exotic locations, beautiful women and plenty of action.

What did I like?

This is the first Cussler book that I have read, so was unsure of what to anticipate. I have read many action books that have promised to offer so much and actually delivered so little. Jack Higgins is easily my all time favourite author, so I was pleased to find a number of similarities in the novel (particularly with his creation of Sean Dillon). The action is fast paced and there is very little let up throughout the 340+ pages. Pitt seems the hero that all men (or at least boys) would like to become, tall, handsome and supplied with a ‘devil may care’ attitude. At times Pitt’s replies are so cheesy that even James Bond would be embarrassed to repeat them, but this only added to the cheeky side of the trained killer. Such as this little exchange with a girl who Pitt awakes to find looking over him (you could almost deliver Pitt’s lines with a Sean Connery accent):

‘You’re the best possible stimulant for a man in my delicate condition’

‘Oh really, and what rare disease are you suffering from?’

‘I have several, but we can begin with hornyitus.’ ”

I know this may not be to everyone’s taste, but it really does help within the context of the novel to break up the tense scenes. Another aspect that I enjoyed was that it was one of those novels where you were actually bombarded with a number of facts (not surprising when you consider that Cussler is almost a real life Pitt) and you felt as if you picked up a little seafaring knowledge along the way. Although now over 40 years old, obviously the technology seemed more than dated but the writing remains fresh.

What didn’t I like?

Although I really did enjoy the book (read in two sittings) the plot really was a bit too simple. There were a number of twists but a few of these were easily second guessed. However, Cussler did warn us about this in the foreword so they were to be expected really. From looking at reviews of his later works this seems to be something that he irons out very quickly.

Would I recommend it?

I would, but because this is only the first book of his I have read then really cannot comment on how it compares to Cussler’s other works, or if this is the place to start as an introduction to the author. I decided to read it first as I like to go through a series in order and a number of other websites and reviewers list Pacific Vortex as the place to start. I can see why lovers of hardcore action may not like the book, and it does not seem to have been awarded the accolade that the later Pitt novels have received, but I always find the best place to start is at the very beginning. Give it a try, with over 50 novels to his name Cussler must be doing something right.


Reviewed by:

Lee Bridge

Added 6th April 2015

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Lee Bridge