Inca Gold (Dirk Pitt Series #12)

Inca Gold (Dirk Pitt Series #12)

4.4 56
by Clive Cussler
     
 

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A classic, thrilling Dirk Pitt adventure from a master of the genre!

Nearly five centuries ago a fleet of boats landed mysteriously on an island in an inland sea. There, an ancient Andean people hid a golden hoard greater than that of any pharaoh, then they and their treasure vanished into history—until now.

In 1998, in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Dirk

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Overview

A classic, thrilling Dirk Pitt adventure from a master of the genre!

Nearly five centuries ago a fleet of boats landed mysteriously on an island in an inland sea. There, an ancient Andean people hid a golden hoard greater than that of any pharaoh, then they and their treasure vanished into history—until now.

In 1998, in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Dirk Pitt dives into an ancient sacrificial pool, saving two American archaeologists from certain drowning. But his death-defying rescue is only the beginning, as it draws the intrepid Pitt into a vortex of darkness and danger, corruption and betrayal. A sinister crime syndicate has traced the long-lost treasure—worth almost a billion dollars—from the Andes to the banks of a hidden underground river flowing beneath a Mexican desert. Driven by burning greed and a ruthless bloodlust, the syndicate is racing to seize the golden prize...and to terminate the one man who can stop them.

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...

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416525721
Publisher:
Pocket Star
Publication date:
10/30/2007
Series:
Dirk Pitt Series, #12
Pages:
688
Sales rank:
128,090
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.50(d)

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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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