Lost City: A Kurt Austin Adventure (NUMA Files Series)

Lost City: A Kurt Austin Adventure (NUMA Files Series)

4.1 48
by Clive Cussler, Paul Kemprecos

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The key to eternal life has been found beneath two thousand feet of icy water in an area known as the "Lost City." To a family of ruthless French arms dealers the Lost City is the key to world domination. To Kurt Austin, leader of NUMA's Special Assignments Team, and his colleague Joe Zavala, it may be their greatest—and deadliest—challenge of all.  See more details below


The key to eternal life has been found beneath two thousand feet of icy water in an area known as the "Lost City." To a family of ruthless French arms dealers the Lost City is the key to world domination. To Kurt Austin, leader of NUMA's Special Assignments Team, and his colleague Joe Zavala, it may be their greatest—and deadliest—challenge of all.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kurt Austin, leader of the National Underwater and Marine Agency's Special Assignments Team, battles international evildoers again in the fifth installment of this excellent series. There are several parallel plots: a mysterious aviator has been found frozen in a massive glacier; a mutant seaweed is threatening to choke the world's oceans; a giant submarine is roaming the thermal vents of the deep sea area known as the Lost City; and the secretive, arms-dealing Fauchard family, run by ruthless black-widow Racine and her homicidal son, Emil, is up to no good. Also there's a mysterious 16th-century helmet, a search for the philosopher's stone and an island of filthy, mutant cannibals. Austin's love interest is lush, sensual Skye Labelle, an archeologist specializing in arms and armor ("She had a good body, but it would never make the cover of Sports Illustrated"). Kidnappings, hair's-breadth escapes, fierce battles, strange science, beautiful women and plenty of action add up to vintage Cussler. Of course, one of the secrets of the genre is to waste no time on ancillary details: "Before long, a cigar-shaped object came into view"; "Before long, they were stepping out of the cockpit onto the deck." Readers will find that, before long, they're racing through the pages as Austin and his band of merry men fight to stop the Fauchards from reaching the ultimate evildoer's goal: world domination. Agent, Peter Lampack. 600,000 first printing; simultaneous Penguin Audio. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A body is discovered frozen in the Alps, scientists begin disappearing from a Greek lab, and death greets anyone intent on recovering a life-prolonging enzyme discovered deep in the ocean. Sounds like a job (and it is one job) for Kurt Austin, leader of the National Underwater Marine Agency's (NUMA) Special Assignments Team. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The Fauchards, successful developers and sellers of weapons, keep their place as a major power in the industry through many centuries. Kurt Austin and his crew of trained scientists and elite fighters from the National Underwater and Marine Agency begin investigating nefarious activities of the powerful Racine Fauchard and her son. Their dastardly project involves scientific experiments on humans in order to find an elixir of eternal youth. They are also leading a team of mercenaries who are melting down a massive glacier containing the remains of a Fauchard ancestor and a metal helmet on which is recorded the formula for the elixir. At the same time, the oceans of the world are under siege from a mutant strain of algae, one of the vile spin-off plots by the devilish Racine. Myriad subplots weave together until they form the ending. Along the way, the action fluctuates from a steady pace to racing forward when they intertwine. The story is set in the present, and historical events are added to help explain elements of the complex plot. Settings range from under the Atlantic Ocean to the French Alps and Greece. The Fauchards' creepy castle, complete with dungeon and torture chamber, increases the feeling of science fiction that often accompanies Cussler's stories. Interesting and entertaining reading.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
NUMA Files Series, #5
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt



JODIE MICHAELSON was steaming with anger. Earlier in the evening, she and the three remaining contestants of the Outcasts TV show had had to walk in their heavy boots on a thick rope stretched out along a three-foot-high berm made of piled rocks. The stunt had been billed as the "Viking Trial by Fire." Rows of torches blazed away on either side of the rope, adding drama and risk, although the line of fire was actually six feet away. The cameras shot from a low side angle, making the walk seem much more dangerous than it was.

What wasn't phony was the way the producers had schemed to bring the contestants to near violence.

Outcasts was the latest offering in the "reality" shows that had popped up like mushrooms after the success of Survivor and Fear Factor. It was an accelerated combination of both formats, with the shouting matches of Jerry Springer thrown in.

The format was simple. Ten participants had to pass a gamut of tests over the course of three weeks. Those who failed, or were voted off by the others, had to leave the island.

The winner would make a million dollars, with bonus points, which seemed to be based on how nasty the contestants could be to one another.

The show was considered even more cutthroat than its predecessors, and the producers played tricks to ratchet up the tension. Where other shows were highly competitive, Outcasts was openly combative.

The show's format had been based in part on the Outward Bound survival course, where a participant must live off the land. Unlike the other survival shows, which tended to be set on tropical isles with turquoise waters and swaying palm trees, Outcasts was filmed in the Scottish Orkneys. The contestants had landed in a tacky replica of a Viking ship, to an audience of seabirds.

The island was two miles long and a mile wide. It was mostly rock that had been tortured into knobs and fissures aeons ago by some cataclysm, with a few stands of scraggly trees here and there and a beach of coarse sand where most of the action was filmed. The weather was mild, except at night, and the skin-covered huts were tolerable.

The speck of rock was so insignificant that the locals referred to it as the "Wee Island." This had prompted a hilarious exchange between the producer, Sy Paris, and his assistant, Randy Andleman.

Paris was in one of his typical raves. "We can't film an adventure show on a place called 'Wee Island,' for godsakes. We've got to call it something else." His face lit up. "We'll call it 'Skull Island.'_"

"It doesn't look like a skull," Andleman said. "It looks like an overdone fried egg."

"Close enough," Paris had said, before dashing off.

Jodie, who had witnessed the exchange, elicited a smile from Andleman when she said, "I think it rather resembles the skull of a dumb TV series producer."

The tests were basically the kind of gross-out stunts, such as ripping live crabs apart and eating them or diving into a tank full of eels, that were guaranteed to make the viewer gag and watch the next installment, to see how bad things would get. Some of the contestants seemed to have been chosen for their aggressiveness and general meanness.

The climax would come when the last two contestants spent the night hunting each other using nightscopes and paint-ball guns, a stunt that was based on the short story "The Most Dangerous Game." The survivor was awarded another million dollars.

Jodie was a physical fitness teacher from Orange County, California. She had a killer body in a bikini, although her curves were wasted under her down-filled clothes. She had long, blond hair and a quick intelligence that she had hid to get on the program. Every contestant was typecast, but Jodie refused to play the bimbo role the producers had assigned to her.

In the last quiz for points and demerits, she and the others had been asked whether a conch was a fish, a mollusk or a car. As the show's stereotype blonde, she was supposed to say "Car."

Jeezus, she'd never live something like that down when she got back to civilization.

Since the quiz debacle, the producers had been making strong hints that she should go. She'd given them their chance to oust her when a cinder got in her eye and she'd failed the fire walk. The remaining members of the tribe had gathered around the fire with grave looks on their faces, and Sy Paris had dramatically intoned the order to leave the clan and make her entry into Valhalla. Jeezus.

As she headed away from the campfire now, she fumed at herself for failing the test. But there was still a bounce to her step. After only a few weeks with these lunatics, she was glad to be off the island. It was a rugged, beautiful setting, but she had grown weary of the backbiting, the manipulation and general sneakiness in which a contestant had to indulge for the dubious honor of being hunted down like a rabid dog.

Beyond the "Gate to Valhalla," an arbor made of plastic whalebones, was a large house trailer that was the quarters for the production crew. While the clan members slept in skin tents and ate bugs, the crew enjoyed heat, comfortable cots and gourmet meals. Once a contestant was thrown out of the game, he or she spent the night in the trailer until a helicopter picked him or her up the next morning.

"Tough luck," said Andleman, who met her at the door. Andleman was a sweetheart, the complete opposite of his hard-driving boss.

"Yeah, real tough. Hot showers. Hot meals. Cell phones."

"Hell, we've got all that right here."

She glanced around at the comfortable accommodations. "So I noticed."

"That's your bunk over there," he said. "Make yourself a drink from the bar, and there's some terrific paté in the fridge that'll help you decompress. I've got to go give Sy a hand. Knock yourself out."

"Thanks, I will."

She went over to the bar and made herself a tall Beefeater martini, straight up. The paté was as delicious as advertised. She was looking forward to going home. The ex-contestants always made the rounds of the TV talk shows to rake over the people they'd left behind. Easy money. She stretched out in a comfortable chair. After a few minutes, the alcohol put her to sleep.

She awoke with a start. In her sleep, she had heard high-pitched screams like the sound of seabirds flocking or children in a playground, against a background of yells and shouts.


She got up, went to the door and listened. She wondered if Sy had come up with yet another means of humiliation. Maybe he had the others doing a wild savage dance around the fire.

She walked briskly along the path that led to the beach. The noise grew louder, more frantic. Something was dreadfully wrong. These were screams of fright and pain rather than excitement. She picked up her pace and burst through the Gate to Valhalla. What she saw looked like a scene from a Hieronymus Bosch depiction of Hell.

The cast and crew were under attack by hideous creatures that seemed half man, half animal. The savage attackers were snarling, pulling their victims down and tearing at them with claws and teeth.

She saw Sy fall, then Randy. She recognized several bodies that were lying bloody and mauled on the beach.

In the flickering light from the fire, Jodie saw that the attackers had long, filthy white hair down to their shoulders. The faces were like nothing she had ever seen. Ghastly, twisted masks.

One creature clutched a severed arm which he was raising to his mouth. Jodie couldn't help herself, she screamed . . . and the other creatures broke off their ungodly feast and looked at her with burning eyes that glowed a luminous red.

She wanted to vomit, but they were coming toward her in a crouching lope.

She ran for her life.

Her first thought was the trailer, but she had enough presence of mind to know she'd be trapped there.

She ran for the high rocky ground, the creatures snuffing behind her like bloodhounds. In the dark, she lost her footing and fell into a fissure, but unknown to her the accident saved her life. Her pursuers lost her scent.

Jodie had cracked her head in the fall. She regained consciousness once, and thought she heard harsh voices and gunshots. Then she passed out again.

She was still lying unconscious in the fissure the next morning when the helicopter arrived. By the time the crew had scoured the island and finally found Jodie, they had come to a startling discovery.

Everyone else had vanished.

--from Lost City by Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos, Copyright © 2004 by Sandecker, RLLLP, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher

Meet the Author

Clive Cussler is the author of many New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Spy and Lost Empire. He lives in Arizona.
Paul Kemprecos has coauthored all five previous NUMA Files novels with Cussler and is a Shamus Award-winning author of six underwater detective thrillers.

Brief Biography

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

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