Inca Gold (Dirk Pitt Series #12)

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Overview

Dirk Pitt is back, in an adventure that is perhaps the most inventive and most exciting of his career - a classic treasure hunt involving an ancient hoard of gold, the secrets of a lost civilization, and an international ring of smugglers, all brought together in a plot that only Clive Cussler could devise. Inca Gold begins in 1532, when a fleet of ships sails in secret to an island in the middle of an inland sea. There they hide a magnificent treasure more vast than that of any pharaoh. Then they disappear, ...
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Overview

Dirk Pitt is back, in an adventure that is perhaps the most inventive and most exciting of his career - a classic treasure hunt involving an ancient hoard of gold, the secrets of a lost civilization, and an international ring of smugglers, all brought together in a plot that only Clive Cussler could devise. Inca Gold begins in 1532, when a fleet of ships sails in secret to an island in the middle of an inland sea. There they hide a magnificent treasure more vast than that of any pharaoh. Then they disappear, leaving only a great stone demon to guard their hoard. In 1578 the legendary Sir Francis Drake captures a Spanish galleon filled with Inca gold and silver and the key to the lost treasure, which included a gigantic chain of gold that belonged to the last Inca king, a masterpiece of ancient technology so huge that it requires two hundred men to lift it. As the galleon is sailed by Drake's crew back to England, an underwater earthquake causes a massive tidal wave that sweeps it into the jungle. Only one man survives to tell the tale.... In 1998 a group of archaeologists is nearly drowned while diving into the depths of a sacrificial pool high in the Andes of Peru. They are saved by the timely arrival of Dirk Pitt, who is in the area on a marine expedition. Pitt soon finds out that his life has been placed in jeopardy as well by smugglers intent on uncovering the lost ancient Incan treasure. Soon, he, his faithful companions, and Dr. Shannon Kelsey, a beautiful young archaeologist, are plunged into a vicious, no-holds-barred struggle to survive. From then on it becomes a battle of wits in a race against time and danger to find the golden chain, as Pitt finds himself caught up in a struggle with a sinister international family syndicate that deals in stolen works of art, the smuggling of ancient artifacts, and art forgery worth many hundreds of millions of dollars. The clash between the art thieves, the FBI and the Customs Service, a tribe of local Indians, and

Dirk Pitt returns in an subterranean adventure that is perhaps the most inventive and most enthralling of his career--one that involves a classic treasure hunt for an ancient hoard of Incan gold off the coast of an island, the secrets of a lost civilization, and an international family syndicate that deals in stolen works of art and smuggled artifacts. Pitt engages in a battle of wits in a race against time to find the gold, immersed in a battle between art theives, the FBI and the Customs Service, and a tribe of local Indians. 537pp.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A chance rescue of two divers trapped in a Peruvian sinkhole leads series hero Dirk Pitt ( Raise the Titanic! ; Deep Six ) into a search for lost treasure that involves grave robbers, art thieves and ancient curses. Cussler's latest adventure novel features terrorists who aren ' t really terrorists and a respected archeologist who is not what he seems; it all boils down to a race between Pitt and some unscrupulous crooks for a cache of Inca gold hidden away from the Spanish and lost since the 16th century. The villains, a society of art and antiquity smugglers called the Solpemachaco , want to get their hands on the Golden Body Suit of Tiapollo, which contains in its hieroglyphics a description of the Inca treasure's hidden burial place. Pitt ends up searching for a jade box containing a quipu , an Inca silver-and-gold metalwork map to the treasure. The box was stolen from the Indians by the Spanish, stolen from the Spanish by Francis Drake and then lost in the South American jungle, but readers who know Pitt know that that a 400-year-old missing clue is only a minor obstacle. Master storyteller Cussler keeps the action spinning as he weaves a number of incredible plotlines and coincidences into a believable and gripping story. It's pure escapist adventure, with a wry touch of humor and a certain self-referential glee (Cussler himself makes a cameo appearance), but the entertainment value meets the gold standard. 550,000 first printing; Literary Guild super release and Doubleday Book Club super release. (June)
VOYA - Susan Allen
Dirk Pitt, employed by NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), finds himself and his sidekick Al Giordino embroiled yet again in a mysterious and dangerous adventure in Inca Gold. Al and Dirk are sent to find two scientists who took a dive into a sacrificial well dating from the times of the Incas, but did not return. Dirk finds the scientists in an unexpected place and on the way discovers old and new dead bodies. The rest of the story revolves around the strange nature of the underground well, the identity and cause of death of the new dead body, and the location of a long-lost treasure. Dirk and Al are in the thick of all of this, saving ladies in distress and foiling the bad guys. Take a diamond mine, a mysterious island, a beautiful woman, and legends of a sea serpent and one has the makings of another fast-paced Dirk Pitt adventure in Shock Wave. Dirk and Al are investigating a mysterious force off the coast of Australia that is killing thousands of marine creatures and nearly two hundred people aboard a cruise ship. They seek the help of a zoologist, but later learn she is the daughter of the prime suspect of all the trouble, and that this suspect has kidnapped her twin boys. Is Maeve helping, or not? Readers will hold their breath as shipwrecked Dirk, Al, and Maeve try to reach land on a raft that is splitting from stem to stem. They will follow step-by-step the investigation into the mysterious force, reaching the surprising answer with Dirk and Al. But will readers believe the legends about the sea serpent-and do the heroes? The action is fast and the reader's interest will be keen in both of these masterfully-done adaptations for young adults of previously published Dirk Pitt adventures. The writing flows well, as does the action. The removal of some long descriptive sections and the tightening of the pace matches most younger readers' desire for high-speed action. Both stories remain the same, and are not hurt by the adaptation. The vocabulary is reachable-but by no means have the vocabulary, sentence structure, or complexity of the story line been simplified. These adaptations will serve young adults well, especially those who would find the adult versions too long. Note: This review was written and published to address two titles-Inca Gold and Shock Wave. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Library Journal
Dirk Pitt is back in fine form as he rescues two archaeologists from certain death in a Peruvian sinkhole. Before Pitt climbs out of the hole he runs afoul of the Solpemachace, a group of three brothers who steal and sell Indian artifacts. Pitt finds a rope sculpture, a quipu, that points the way to a huge Inca treasure. Meanwhile, the Solpemachace steal the Golden Body Suit of Tiapollo, which leads them to the same treasure inside a mountain in Baja, Mexico. As both sides race to the treasure, the Solpemachace capture Pitt's girlfriend, Congresswoman Loren Smith. With his lifelong, wisecracking friend, Al Giordino, Pitt braves an uncharted underground river to rescue Loren and stop the Solpemachace. Cussler weaves Inca legends and lore in a spellbinding tale featuring enduring hero Pitt, a skin-diving Indiana Jones with a James Bond attitude. Cussler fans will demand this one. For all fiction collections.-Grant A. Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora
Bill Bell
Dick Pitt has battled a lot of mean guys over the years, but this Arthur Dorsett is some piece of work....Cussler tells one helluva story. -- New York Daily News
From the Publisher
Stephen Coonts Nobody does it better than Clive Cussler. Nobody!

New York Daily News GET-TO-THE-NEXT-PAGE EXCITEMENT...Dirk Pitt is a combination James Bond and Jacques Cousteau...

From Barnes & Noble
Dirk Pitt is back in the most inventive, exciting adventure of his career--a classic treasure hunt involving an ancient hoard of gold, the secrets of a lost civilization, and an international ring of smugglers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671519810
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Series: Dirk Pitt Series , #12
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 592
  • Product dimensions: 6.76 (w) x 4.16 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Clive  Cussler
Clive Cussler is the author or coauthor of twenty-nine books, which have been published in more than forty languages in more than 100 countries. In his life away from the written word, Cussler has searched for lost aircraft, led expeditions to find famous shipwrecks, and garnered an amazing record of success. With his own NUMA crew of volunteers, Cussler has discovered more than sixty lost ships of historic significance, including the long-lost Confederate submarine Hunley. A world-class collector of classic automobiles, Cussler divides his time between the deserts of Arizona and the mountains of Colorado.

Biography

Cussler began writing novels in 1965 and published his first work featuring his continuous series hero, Dirk Pitt, in 1973. His first non-fiction, The Sea Hunters, was released in 1996. The Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University of New York, considered The Sea Hunters in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in May, 1997. It was the first time since the College was founded in 1874 that such a degree was bestowed.

Cussler is an internationally recognized authority on shipwrecks and the founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency, (NUMA) a 501C3 non-profit organization (named after the fictional Federal agency in his novels) that dedicates itself to preserving American maritime and naval history. He and his crew of marine experts and NUMA volunteers have discovered more than 60 historically significant underwater wreck sites including the first submarine to sink a ship in battle, the Confederacy's Hunley, and its victim, the Union's Housatonic; the U-20, the U-boat that sank the Lusitania; the Cumberland, which was sunk by the famous ironclad, Merrimack; the renowned Confederate raider Florida; the Navy airship, Akron, the Republic of Texas Navy warship, Zavala, found under a parking lot in Galveston, and the Carpathia, which sank almost six years to-the-day after plucking Titanic's survivors from the sea.

In September, 1998, NUMA - which turns over all artifacts to state and Federal authorities, or donates them to museums and universities - launched its own web site for those wishing more information about maritime history or wishing to make donations to the organization. (www.numa.net).

In addition to being the Chairman of NUMA, Cussler is also a fellow in both the Explorers Club of New York and the Royal Geographic Society in London. He has been honored with the Lowell Thomas Award for outstanding underwater exploration.

Cussler's books have been published in more than 40 languages in more than 100 countries. The author lives in Arizona.

Biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA)

Good To Know

Cussler worked for many years in advertising and was responsible for coming up with Ajax's "White Knight" commercial catchphrase, "It's stronger than dirt."

The Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University of New York, considered Cussler's 1996 nonfiction book, The Sea Hunters, equivalent to a Ph.D. thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in 1997.

Cussler is a fellow in the Explorers Club of New York and the Royal Geographic Society in London, and has been granted the Lowell Thomas Award for outstanding underwater exploration.

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    1. Hometown:
      Phoenix, Arizona
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 15, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Aurora, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Pasadena City College; Ph.D., Maritime College, State University of New York, 1997

Read an Excerpt

Chapter TwoOne hour and forty-five minutes had passed since Shannon and Miles had entered the sacrificial pool. Any attempt at rescue now seemed an empty gesture. Nothing could save Shannon and Miles now. They had to be dead, their air used up long ago. Two more victims added to the countless number who had disappeared into the morbid waters through the centuries.

In a voice frantic with desperation, Chaco had informed him that the Peruvian navy was caught unprepared for an emergency. Their water escape and recovery team was on a training mission far to the south of Peru near the Chilean border. It was impossible for them to airlift the dive team and their equipment to the sinkhole before sundown. Chaco helplessly shared Miller's anxiety over the slow response time. But this was South America and speed was seldom a priority.

One of the female students heard it first. She cupped her hands to her ears and turned back and forth like a radar antenna. "A helicopter!" she announced excitedly, pointing in a westerly direction through the tops of the trees.

In an expectant hush everyone around the rim of the pool listened. The faint thumping sound of a rotor blade beating the air came toward them, growing louder with each passing moment. A minute later a turquoise helicopter with the letters NUMA painted on its sides swept into view.

Where had it come from? Miller wondered, his spirits rising. It obviously didn't have the markings of the Peruvian navy. It had to be a civilian craft.

The tops of the surrounding trees were whipped into a frenzy as the helicopter began its descent into a small clearing beside the sinkhole. The landing skids were still in the air when the fuselage door opened and a tall man with wavy black hair made an agile leap to the ground. He was dressed in a thin, shorty wet suit for diving in warm waters. Ignoring the younger people, he walked directly up to the anthropologist.

"Dr. Miller?"

"Yes, I'm Miller."

The stranger, a warm smile arched across his face, shoved out a calloused hand. "I'm sorry we couldn't have arrived sooner."

"Who are you?"

"My name is Dirk Pitt."

"You're American," Miller stated, staring into a craggy face with eyes that seemed to smile.

"Special Projects Director for the U.S. National Underwater and Marine Agency. As I understand it, two of your divers are missing in an underwater cave."

"A sinkhole," Miller corrected him. "Dr. Shannon Kelsey and Miles Rodgers entered the water almost two hours ago and have failed to resurface."

Pitt walked over to the edge of the pool, stared down at the stagnant water, and quickly determined that diving conditions were rotten. The pool went from slime green at the outer edges to pitch black in the center, giving the impression of great depth. There was nothing to indicate that the operation would prove to be anything more than a body recovery. "Not too inviting," he mused.

"Where did you come from?" queried Miller.

"NUMA is conducting an underwater geological survey off the coast due west of here. The Peruvian naval headquarters radioed a request to send divers on a rescue mission and we responded. Apparently we're the first to arrive on-site."

"How can oceanographic scientists carry out a rescue and recovery operation in a hellhole?" Miller snapped, becoming suddenly angry.

"Our research ship contained the necessary diving equipment," Pitt explained unemotionally. "I'm not a scientist but a marine engineer. I've only had a few training sessions in underwater recovery, but I'm a reasonably good diver."

Before a discouraged Miller could reply, the helicopter's engine died as the rotor blades slowly swung to a stop, and a short man with the broad shoulders and barrel chest of a dock worker squeezed through the exit door and approached. He looked the complete opposite of the tall, lean Pitt.

"My friend and associate, Al Giordino," Pitt said, introducing him.

Giordino nodded under a mass of dark, curly hair and said simply, "Hello."

Miller looked behind them through the windshield of the aircraft, and seeing the interior held no other passengers, groaned in despair. "Two of you, only two of you. My God, it will take at least a dozen men to bring them out."

Pitt wasn't the least bit annoyed by Miller's outburst. He stared at the anthropologist with tolerant understanding through deep green opaline eyes that seemed to possess a mesmeric quality. "Trust me, Doc," he said in a tone that stopped any further argument. "Al and I can do the job."

Within minutes, after a brief planning session, Pitt was ready to be lowered into the pool. He was wearing a full EXO-26 face mask from Diving Systems International with an exothermic air regulator good for polluted water applications. The earphone sockets were connected to an MK1-DCI Ocean Technology Systems diver radio. He carried twin 100-cubic-foot air tanks on his back and wore a buoyancy compensator with an array of instruments indicating depth, air pressure, and compass direction. As he geared up, Giordino connected a thick nylon Kermantle communications and safety line to Pitt's earphone and an emergency release buckle on a strap cinched around Pitt's waist. The remainder of the safety line wound around a large reel mounted inside the helicopter and connected to an outside amplifier. After a final check of Pitt's equipment, Giordino patted him on the head and spoke into the communication system's microphone.

"Looking good. Do you read?"

"As though you were inside my head," Pitt answered, his voice audible to everyone through an amplifier. "How about me?"

Giordino nodded. "Clear and distinct. I'll monitor your decompression schedule and dive time from here."

"Understood."

"I'm counting on you to give me a running account of your situation and depth."

Pitt wrapped the safety line around one arm and gripped it with both hands. He gave Giordino a wink from behind the lens of the face mask. "Okay, let's open the show."

Giordino motioned to four of Miller's students who began unwinding the reel. Unlike Shannon and Miles who bounced their way down along the sinkhole walls, Giordino had strung the nylon line over the end of a dead tree trunk that hung 2 meters (over 6 feet) beyond the edge of the vertical precipice, allowing Pitt to drop without scraping against the limestone. For a man who was conceivably sending his friend to an untimely death, Miller thought, Giordino appeared incredibly calm and efficient. He did not know Pitt and Giordino, had never heard of the legendary pair. He could not know they were extraordinary men with almost twenty years of adventuring under the seas who had developed an unerring sense for assessing the odds of survival. He could only stand by in frustration at what he was certain was an exercise in futility. He leaned over the brink and watched intently as Pitt neared the green surface scum of the water.

"How's it look?" asked Giordino over the phone.

"Like my grandmother's split pea soup," replied Pitt.

"I don't advise sampling it."

"The thought never entered my mind."

No further words were spoken as Pitt's feet entered the liquid slime. When it closed over his head, Giordino slackened the safety line to give him freedom of movement. The water temperature was only about ten degrees cooler than the average hot tub. Pitt began breathing through his regulator, rolled over, kicked his fins, and dove down into the murky world of death. The increasing water pressure squeezed his ear drums and he snorted inside his mask to equalize the force. He switched on a Birns Oceanographics Snooper light, but the hand-held beam could barely penetrate the gloom.

Then, abruptly, he passed through the dense murk into a yawning chasm of crystal clear water. Instead of the light beam reflecting off the algae into his face, it suddenly shot into the distance. The instant transformation below the layer of slime stunned him for a moment. He felt as if he were swimming in air. "I have clear visibility at a depth of four meters," he reported topside. "Any sign of the other divers?"

Pitt slowly swam in a 360-degree circle. "No, nothing."

"Can you make out details of the bottom?"

"Fairly well," replied Pitt. "The water is transparent as glass but quite dark. The scum on the surface cuts the sunlight on the bottom by seventy percent. It's a bit dark around the walls so I'll have to swim a search pattern so I won't miss the bodies."

"Do you have enough slack on the safety line?" "Maintain a slight tension so it won't hinder my move- ment as I go deeper."

For the next twelve minutes Pitt circled the steep walls of the sinkhole, probing every cavity, descending as if revolving around a giant corkscrew. The limestone, laid down hundreds of millions of years earlier, was mineralstained with strange, abstract images. He planed horizontally and swam in languid slow motion, sweeping the beam of light back and forth in front of him. The illusion of soaring over a bottomless pit was overwhelming. Far above the pool, Miller gave Giordino a dazed look. "They must be down there. Impossible for them to sim- ply vanish."

Far below, Pitt kicked slowly across the bottom, careful to stay a good meter above the rocks and especially the silt, which might billow into a blinding cloud and reduce his visibility to zero within seconds. Once disturbed, silt could remain suspended for several hours before settling back to the bottom. He gave an involuntary shudder. The water had turned uncomfortably cold as he passed into a cool layer suspended beneath the warmer water above. He slowed and drifted, adding enough lift from his compensator for slight buoyancy, achieving a slight head-down, fins-up swimming position.

Cautiously, he reached down and gently sank his hands into the brown muck. They touched bedrock before the silt rose to his wrists. Pitt thought it strange the silt was so shallow. After countless centuries of erosion from the walls and runoff from the ground above, the rocky sub- surface should have been covered with a layer at least 2 meters (over 6 feet) deep. He went motionless and floated over what looked like a field of bleached white tree limbs sprouting from the mud. Gripping one that was gnarled with small protrusions, he eased it out of the bed of silt. He found himself staring at a spinal column from an ancient sacrificial victim.

Giordino's voice broke through his earphones. "Speak to me."

"Depth thirty-seven meters," Pitt answered as he flung aside the spinal column. "The floor of the pool is a bone yard. There must be two hundred skeletons scattered around down here."

"Still no sign of bodies?"

"Not yet."

Pitt began to feel an icy finger trail up the nape of his neck as he spotted a skeleton with a bony hand pointing into the gloom. Beside the rib cage was a rusty breastplate, while the skull was still encased in what he guessed was a sixteenth-century Spanish helmet.

Pitt reported the sighting to Giordino. "Tell Doc Miller I've found a long-dead Spaniard complete with helmet and breastplate down here." Then, as if drawn by an unseen force, his eyes followed in the direction a curled finger of the hand pointed.

There was another body, one that had died more recently. It appeared to be a male with the legs drawn up and the head tilted back. Decomposition had not had time to fully break down the flesh. The corpse was still in a state of saponification, where the meaty tissue and organs had turned into a firm soaplike substance.

The expensive hiking boots, a red silk scarf knotted around the neck, and a Navajo silver belt buckle inlaid with turquoise stones made it easy for Pitt to recognize someone who was not a local peasant. Whoever he was, he was not young. Strands of long silver hair and beard swayed with the current from Pitt's movements. A wide gash in the neck also showed how he had died.

A thick gold ring with a large yellow stone flashed under the beam of the dive light. The thought occurred to Pitt that the ring might come in handy for identifying the body. Fighting the bile rising in his throat, he easily pulled the ring over the knuckle of the dead man's rotting finger while half expecting a shadowy form to appear and accuse him of acting like a ghoul. Disagreeable as the job was, he swished the ring through the silt to clean off any remnant of its former owner, and then slipped it onto one of his own fingers so he wouldn't lose it.

"I have another one," he notified Giordino.

"One of the divers or an old Spaniard?"

"Neither. This one looks to be a few months to a year old."

"Do you want to retrieve it?" asked Giordino. "Not yet. We'll wait until after we find Doc Miller's people --" Pitt suddenly broke off as he was struck by an enormous force of water that surged into the pool from an unseen passage on the opposite wall and churned up the silt like dust whirling around a tornado. He would have tumbled out of control like a leaf in the wind by the unexpected energy of the turbulence but for his safety line. As it was he barely kept a firm grip on his dive light.

"That was a hell of a jerk," said Giordino with concern. "What's going on?"

"I've been struck by a powerful surge from nowhere," Pitt replied, relaxing and allowing himself to go with the flow. "That explains why the silt layer is so shallow. It's periodically swept away by the turbulence."

"Probably fed by an underground water system that builds up pressure and releases it as a surge across the floor of the sinkhole," Giordino speculated. "Shall we pull you out?"

"No, leave me be. Visibility is nil, but I don't seem to be in any immediate danger. Slowly release the safety line and let's see where the current carries me. There must be an outlet somewhere."

"Too dangerous. You might get hung up and trapped." "Not if I keep from entangling my safety line," Pitt said easily.

On the surface, Giordino studied his watch. "You've been down sixteen minutes. How's your air?"

Pitt held his pressure gauge in front of his face mask. He could barely read the needle through the maelstrom of silt. "Good for another twenty minutes."

"I'll give you ten. After that, at your present depth, you'll be looking at decompression stops."

"You're the boss," Pitt came back agreeably.

"What's your situation?"

"Feels like I'm being pulled into a narrow tunnel feet first. I can touch the walls closing around me. Lucky I have a safety line. Impossible to swim against the surge." Giordino turned to Miller. "Sounds as if he may have a lead on what happened to your divers."

Miller shook his head in anger. "I warned them. They could have avoided this tragedy by keeping their dive in shallow depths."

Pitt felt as though he was being sucked through the narrow slot for an hour when it was only twenty seconds. The silt cloud had faded slightly, most of it remaining in the deep pool behind. He began to see his surroundings more clearly. His compass showed he was being carried in a southeasterly direction. Then the walls suddenly opened out into one enormous, flooded room. To his right and below he caught the momentary flash of something glinting in the murk. Something metallic vaguely reflecting the silt-dimmed beam of his dive light. It was an abandoned air tank. Nearby was a second one. He swam over and peered at their pressure gauges. The needles were pegged on empty. He angled his dive light around in a circle, expecting to see dead bodies floating in the darkness like phantom demons.

The cool bottom water had drained away a measure of Pitt's strength and he could feel his motions becoming sluggish. Although Giordino's voice still came through the earphones as clearly as if Pitt was standing next to him, the words seemed less distinct. Pitt switched his mind off automatic and put it on full control, sending out instructions to check data gauges, safety line, and buoyancy compensator as if there were another Pitt inside his head.

He mentally sharpened his senses and forced himself to be alert. If the bodies were swept into a side passage, he thought, he could easily pass them by and never notice. But a quick search turned up nothing but a pair of discarded swim fins. Pitt aimed the dive light upward and saw the reflective glitter of surface water that indicated the upper dome of the chamber contained an air pocket. He also glimpsed a pair of white feet.

Copyright © 1994 by Clive Cussler

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter 1

October 10, 2005
Andes Mountains of Peru

The skeleton reclined in the sediment of the deep pool as if resting on a soft mattress, the cold unwinking eye sockets of the skull staring upward through the liquid gloom toward the surface 36 meters (120 feet) away. One arm was held in an upright position, the bony fingers of the hand as if beckoning the unwary.

From the bottom of the pool to the sun above, the water gradually lightened from a dismal gray-brown to a pea-soup green from the pond scum that flourished under the tropical heat. The circular rim stretched 30 meters (98 feet) across and the sheer walls dropped 15 meters (49 feet) to the water. Once in, there was no way a human or animal could escape without help from above.

The place was more than a sacred well where men, women, and children had been thrown alive into the dark waters as sacrifices during times of drought and harsh storms. Ancient legends and myths called it a house of evil gods where strange and unspeakable events occurred. There were also tales of rare artifacts, handcrafted and sculpted, along with jade, gold, and precious that were said to have been cast into the pool to appease the evil gods who were ad weather. In 1964 two divers entered the depths of the sinkhole and never returned. No attempt had been made to recover their bodies.

A great deal of unresolved controversy had surrounded the sacred pool since then, and now archaeologists had finally gathered to dive and retrieve artifacts from its enigmatic depths. The ancient site was located on a western slope beneath a high ridge of the Peruvian Andes near a great ruined city. The nearby stone structures had been part of a vast confederation of city-states, known as the Chachapoyas, that was conquered by the renowned Inca empire around A.D. 1480.

As she stared down at the stagnant water through big, wide, hazel eyes under raised dark brows, Dr. Shannon Kelsey was too excited to feel the cold touch of fear. Her hair was straight and soft blond and tied in a ponytail by a red bandanna, and the skin that showed on her face, arms, and legs was richly tanned.

Dr. Kelsey had enjoyed a ten-year fascination with the Chachapoyan cultures. To work where an enigmatic and obscure people had flourished and died was a dream made possible by a grant from the Archaeology Department of Arizona State University.

"Useless to carry a video camera unless the visibility opens up below the first two meters," said Miles Rodgers, the photographer who was filming the project.

"Then shoot stills," Shannon said firmly. "I want every dive recorded whether we can see past our noses or not."

Rodgers was an old pro at underwater photography. He was in demand by all the major science and travel publications to shoot below-the-sea photos of fish and coral reefs. His extraordinary pictures of World War II shipwrecks in the South Pacific and ancient submerged seaports throughout the Mediterranean had won him numerous awards and the respect of his peers.

A tall, slender man in his sixties, with a silver gray beard that covered half his face, held up Shannon's air tank so she could slip her arms through the straps of the backpack. "I wish you'd put a hold on this until we've finished constructing the dive raft."...Shannon smiled at her colleague, Dr. Steve Miller from the University of Pennsylvania. "That's two days away. By doing a preliminary survey now we can get a head start."

"Then at least wait for the rest of the dive team to arrive from the university. If you and Miles get into trouble, we have no backup."

"Not to worry," Shannon said. "Miles and I will only do a bounce dive to test depth and water conditions. We won't run our dive time past thirty minutes."

Shannon spit into her face mask, smearing the saliva around the inside of the lens to keep it from misting. Next she rinsed the mask from a canteen of water. After adjusting her buoyancy compensator and cinching her weight belt, she and Rodgers made a final check of each other's equipment. Satisfied everything was in place and their digital dive computers properly programmed, Shannon smiled at Miller.

"See you soon, Doc!"

The anthropologist looped under their arms a wide strap that was attached to long nylon lines, gripped tightly by a team of ten Peruvian graduate students of the university's archaeology program, who had volunteered to join the project. "Lower away, kids," Miller ordered.

Hand over hand the lines were paid out as the divers began their descent into the ominous pool below. Shannon and Rodgers extended their legs and used the tips of their dive fins as bumpers to keep from scraping against the rough limestone walls. They could clearly see the coating of slime covering the surface of the water. The aroma of decay and stagnation was overwhelming. To Shannon the thrill of the unknown abruptly changed to a feeling of deep apprehension.

When they were within 1 meter (about 3 feet) of the surface, they both inserted their air regulator mouthpieces between their teeth and signaled to the anxious faces staring from above. Then Shannon and Miles slipped out of their harnesses and dropped out of sight into the odious slime.

Miller nervously paced the rim of the sinkhole, glancing at his watch every other minute while the students peered in fascination at the green slime below. Fifteen minutes passed with no sign of the divers. Suddenly, the exhaust bubbles from their air regulators disappeared.

Frantically Miller ran along the edge of the well. Had they found a cave and entered it? He waited ten minutes, then ran over to a nearby tent and rushed inside. Almost feverishly he picked up a portable radio and began hailing the project's headquarters and supply unit in the small town of Chachapoyas, 90 kilometers (56 miles) to the south. The voice of Juan Chaco, inspector general of Peruvian archaeology and director of the Museo de la Nación in Lima, answered almost immediately.

"Juan here. That you, Doc? What can I do for you?"

"Dr. Kelsey and Miles Rodgers insisted on making a preliminary dive into the sacrificial well," replied Miller. "I think we may have an emergency."

"They went into that cesspool without waiting for the dive team from the university?" Chaco asked in a strangely indifferent tone.

"I tried to talk them out of it."

"When did they enter the water?"

Miller checked his watch again. "Twenty-seven minutes ago."

"How long did they plan to stay down?"

"They planned to resurface after thirty minutes."

"It's still early." Chaco sighed. "So what"s the problem?"

"We've seen no sign of their air bubbles for the last ten minutes."

Chaco caught his breath, closed his eyes for a second. "Doesn't sound good, my friend. This is not what we planned."

"Can you send the dive team ahead by helicopter?" asked Miller.

"Not possible," Chaco replied helplessly. "They're still in transit from Miami. Their plane isn't scheduled to land in Lima for another four hours."

"We can't afford government meddling. Certainly not now. Can you arrange to have a dive rescue team rushed to the sinkhole?"

"The nearest naval facility is at Trujillo. I'll alert the base commander and go from there."

"Good luck to you, Juan. I'll stand by the radio at this end."

"Keep me informed of any new developments."

"I will, I promise you," Miller said grimly.

In Chachapoyas, Chaco pulled out a handkerchief and mopped his face. He was a man of order. Unforeseen obstacles or problems irritated him. If the two stupid Americans drowned themselves, there would be a govemment inquiry. Despite Chaco's influence, the Peruvian news media were bound to make an overblown incident out of it. The consequences might very well prove to be nothing less than disastrous.

"All we need now," he muttered to himself, "are two dead archaeologists in the pool."

Then with shaking hands he gripped the radio transmitter and began sending out an urgent call for help.

Copyright © 1998 by Clive Cussler

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 56 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2010

    Inca gold- Amazing!

    This book, Inca Gold, was an amazing read. The main character, Dirk Pitt, is a scientist and researcher for the National Underwater and Marine Association. When two divers get stuck in an ancient sacrificial pool, he is the only one who hears the cry for help over the radio. They find out that an organization that finds and sells artifacts is behind it, and they are looking for a treasure hidden by the Incas.
    I think that this book was really amazing because the action never stops. the characters are funny and witty as well. I think the message coming from this story is that good always wins.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2007

    Classic Cussler!

    This happened to be the first Cussler novel that I read and I have since read all of his books. Action packed from start to finished I couldn't put it down and neither will you. The combination of historical fiction, adventure, and ruthless organized crime makes the story irresistible, despite some hard to believe feats by a super computer. All in all, one of Clive's best and well worth the read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2002

    What A Ride!!!

    I can't remember the last time I have read a book that I could not literally put down...If the constant action and adventure does not suck you in, how about something with so much going on having a very original and on going plot. With most books you read you get either/or, but not with Inca Gold. I have read this book three times already and each time I still get excited during the climax scenes. You can't do better than Clive Cussler books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2001

    Great writer, great books, read one!

    I grew up in a house that loved to read. All except for me. When I was a teenager, I got a job at a bookstore. There I read my first Dirk Pitt novel. I have since then read a few more and can't wait to collect them all. Clive Cussler is the only writer who I've found I love to read. So if you're looking to introduce someone to reading who likes bond-esque thrills give them a Cussler novel. I promise they will enjoy it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2001

    By Far the Best book I Ever Read

    This is only the second book i have read by Mr.Cussler. It took me two days to read over a weekend because I couldn't put it down.My first book was 'Alantis Found wich was a great book.Even the end of the book wich i thought was gonna get dull kept you reading till the last word. I also like how Mr.Cussler sticks himslef in the stories in a sly way.I deffintely recommend this book, but not to those with a weak heart.I also recommend 'Atlantis Found' wich was a great book. And as a last word i hope Mr.Cussler 'keeps'm Coming'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2001

    WOW

    This was my first Clive Cussler book. A friend introduced me to him after our many anthropology courses about Meso and South America. I could not put this book down from the beginning. I loved the history intertwined throughout the entire book. The non stop action kept me turning the pages. I am now hooked on Dirk, and I am on my 6th Cussler book in the 3 months since I finished Inca Gold. So far, Inca Gold, by far, remains my favorite.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2012

    Treasure hunting, spies, murder, and history combined can make t

    Treasure hunting, spies, murder, and history combined can make the best of adventure stories. It never fails that Clive Cussler books bring you just that. Inca Gold is a wonderful tale of adventure and Incan history all wrapped up into one.

    Dirk Pitt is called upon to rescue two tapped divers in a South American sinkhole. What he finds is more than what he bargained for, and it leads him into a study of Sir Francis Drake and Incan gold. One of the great things about Cussler's books is how they can take different historical events and connect them with threads that are actually believable.

    Drake was known for his harassment of the Spanish fleet. In this story, he captures the richest of all Spanish galleons that not only held riches but also held the key to an even bigger treasure. He just did not realize what he possessed. In an attempt to get the treasure to his queen, Elizabeth, one of his ships with the treasure key is lost. Only the ranting of a crazed man found in the Amazon gives a hint as to what happened to the ship, the crew, and the treasure.

    A race begins between Pitt and his comrades and those of an international artifact smuggling ring. Each is determined to find the lost gold of an ancient civilization called the Chachapoyans. Ancient cities that were lost to the world are discovered as well as mummies that tell of historical voyages.

    The tale is a fascinating read and is based on many historical facts. The Chachapoyans did exist as well as Sir Francis Drake and the ship that he captured, the Nuestra Señora de la Concepción. The rest of the story is a well developed tale that gives history a little more adventure.

    Though the vast majority of the book is fiction, it is based on historical events. This is what makes reading a Cussler book so entertaining. As you read the adventure, you are also given a history lesson. Though you need to do some research as you go along to help discern the lines of where fact and fiction part ways.

    A wonderful read that educates as well. What I liked the most about the book and other Pitt adventures is that it gets me digging into the history and learn more about the people and events that are written about. The fiction prompts an inquiry into the fact.

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Really Great Read

    I loved this book. It had action, handsome man, romance, guns, cars, treasure. What more could a girl ask for.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2009

    Aweful

    Could not get into this book no matter how hard we tried... can't even give it away... Will be a donated item

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    INDIANA JONES STYLE

    I just finished my first Clive Cussler novel and loved it. It has that 'Indiana Jones' feel. He builds up the suspense for a couple of chapters, then changes course, making you look forward to read thru the next chapter. I just hope the next book that I read (Sahara)is as exciting as this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2005

    A Dirk Pitt Novel

    Just like Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler written books for young adults and adults. Each day, The Inca Gold finds into the treasure. Clives likes to read Tom Clancy books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    Classic Adventure

    I was never a major reader until I picked up Inca Gold, which was my first Cussler novel. I read it straight through on a plane trip to Japan. At no point did I want to sleep or put the book down. The whole book has an Indian Jones feeling, just fun action and adventure. Certainly recommended from me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2001

    Chris Feeniks

    I liked Inca Gold because of the way it was written and how it was used. Clive Cussler knew what he was doing when he wrote the book and made a masterpiece out of it.Inca Gold was one of the best Dirk Pitt novels that I read and was a pleasent experience has all of his novels are.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2001

    CUSSLER CAN WRITE

    Another action-packed adventure from Mr. Cussler. Fast-paced adventure at its best. Great locales and a proven character.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2001

    Just One Great Book!

    This was the first book of his I've ever read...and it just makes me want to go out and buy more! Dirk Pitt is the perfect hero. I would tell anyone to read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2001

    Very Thrilling

    Clive has outdone himself again!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2001

    6 Stars

    Inca Gold was a truly through novel. Cussler is able to create worlds that threaten the main character but satisify the reader. I was literally unable to put it down. This novel should be given at least six stars. Feel free to e-mail me and ask questions about other Cussler works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2001

    Exciting, can't wait to turn the page!!!

    I enjoyed this book that has kept me tensed and I never felt like putting it down. Clive Cussler uses his knowledge to produce great works. Everyone should read it if they like adventure books!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2001

    Page Turner!!!

    This is the first Clive Cussler book I've read and I'm hooked! Dirk Pitt is a likeable hero everyone can relate too! I'm looking forward to the next Dirk Pitt book, and then the next, and the next.........

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2000

    Breathless after 1 chapter

    There was so much action and suspense in the beginning of this book I truly felt exhausted after reading the 1st 2 chapters. My 1st Dirk Pitt book-got 3 more lined up and can't wait!!!

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