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Dr. Heidi Lisherness was about to meet her husband for a night out on the town when she took one last cursory glance at the latest imagery collected by a Super Rapid Scan Operations satellite. A full-figured lady with silver-gray hair pulled back in a bun, Heidi sat at her desk in green shorts and matching top as a measure of comfort against the heat and humidity of Florida in August. She came within a hair of simply shutting down her computer until the following morning. But there was an indiscernible something about the last image that came into her computer from the satellite over the Atlantic Ocean southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. She sat down and gazed more intently into the screen of her monitor. To the untrained eye the picture on the screen simply took on the appearance of a few innocent clouds drifting over an azure blue sea. Heidi saw a view more menacing. She compared the image with one taken only two hours earlier. The mass of cumulus clouds had increased in bulk more rapidly than any spawning storm she could remember in her eighteen years monitoring and forecasting tropical hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean with the National Underwater and Marine Agency Hurricane Center. She began enlarging the two images of the infantstorm formation. Her husband, Harley, a jolly-looking man with a walrus mustache, bald head and wearing rimless glasses, stepped into her office with an impatient look on his face. Harley was also a meteorologist. But he worked for the National Weather Service as an analyst on climatological data that was issued as weather advisories for commercial and private aircraft, boats and ships at sea. "What's keeping you?" he said, pointing impatiently at his watch. "I have reservations at the Crab Pot." Without looking up, she motioned at the two side-by-side images on her computer. "These were taken two hours apart. Tell me what you see." Harley examined them for a long moment. Then his brow furrowed and he repositioned his glasses before leaning closer for a more in-depth look. Finally, he looked at his wife and nodded. "One hell of a fast buildup." "Too fast," said Heidi. "If it continues at the same rate, God only knows how huge a storm it will brew." "You never know," said Harley thoughtfully. "She might come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. It's happened." "True, but most storms take days, sometimes weeks, to build to this strength. This has mushroomed within hours." "Too early to predict her direction or where she'll peak and do the most damage."
"I have a dire feeling this one will be unpredictable." Harley smiled. "You will keep me informed as she builds?" "The National Weather Service will be the first to know," she said, lightly slapping him on the arm. "Thought of a name for your new friend yet?"
"If she becomes as nasty as I think she might, I'll call her Lizzie, after the ax murderess Lizzie Borden." "A bit early in the season for-a name beginning with L but it sounds fitting." Harley handed his wife her purse. "Time enough tomorrow to see what develops. I'm starved. Let's go eat some crab." Heidi dutifully followed her husband from her office, switching off the light and closing the door. But the growing apprehension did not diminish as she slid into the seat of their car. Her mind wasn't on food. It dwelled on what she feared was a hurricane in the making that might very well reach horrendous proportions.
A hurricane is a hurricane by any other name in the Atlantic Ocean. But not in the Pacific, where it is called a typhoon, nor the Indian, where it is known as a cyclone. A hurricane is the most horrendous force of nature, often exceeding the havoc caused by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, creating destruction over a far larger territory. Like the birth of a human or animal, a hurricane requires an array of related circumstances. First, the tropical waters off the west coast of Africa are heated, preferably with temperatures exceeding eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Then, bake the water with the sun, causing vast amounts to evaporate into the atmosphere. This moisture rises into cooler air and condenses into masses of cumulus clouds while giving birth to wide-ranging rain and thunderstorms. This combination provides the heat that fuels the growing tempest and transforms it from infancy to puberty. Now stir in spiraling air that whips around at speeds up to thirty-eight miles an hour, or thirty-three knots. These growing winds cause the surface air pressure to drop. The lower the drop the more intense the wind circulation as it whirls around in an ever-faster momentum until it forms a vortex. Feeding on the ingredients, the system, as it is called by meteorologists, has created an explosive centrifugal force that spins a solid wall of wind and rain around the eye that is amazingly calm. Inside the eye, the sun shines, the sea lies relatively calm and the only sign of the horrendous energy are the surrounding white frenzied walls reaching fifty thousand feet into the sky. Until now, the system has been called a tropical depression, but once the winds hit 74 miles an hour it becomes a full-fledged hurricane. Then, depending on the wind velocities it puts out, it is given a scale number. Winds between 74 and 95 miles an hour is a Category 1 and considered minimal. Category 2 is moderate with winds up to 110. Category 3 blows from 111 to 130 and is listed as extensive. Winds up to 155 are extreme, as was Hurricane Hugo that eliminated most of the beach houses north of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1989. And finally, the granddaddy of them all, Category 5 with winds 155-plus. The last is labeled catastrophic, as was Hurricane Camille, which struck Louisiana and Mississippi in 1969. Camille left 256 dead in her wake, a drop in the bucket as compared to the 8,000 who perished in the great hurricane of 1900 that laid complete waste to Galveston, Texas. In terms of sheer numbers, the record is held by the 1970 tropical cyclone that stormed ashore in Bangladesh and left nearly half a million dead. In terms of damage, the great hurricane of 1926 that devastated Southeast Florida and Alabama left a bill totaling $83 billion, allowing for inflation. Amazingly, only two hundred and forty-three died in that catastrophe. What no one was counting on, including Heidi Lisherness, was that Hurricane Lizzie had a diabolic mind of her own and her coming fury was about to put the previous recorded Atlantic hurricanes to shame. In a short time, after bulking up on muscle, she would begin her murderous journey toward the Caribbean Sea to wreak chaos and havoc on everything she touched.
The coral on this section of the bank was pristine and beautiful, rising in some areas as much as fifty feet off the sandy bottom. There were delicate sea fans and huge brain coral, their vivid colors and sculptured contours spreading into the blue void like a majestic garden with a myriad of archways and grottos. It seemed to Summer that she was swimming into a labyrinth of alleyways and tunnels, some becoming dead ends while others opened into canyons and crevasses large enough to drive a large truck through. Though the water was in excess of eighty degrees, Summer Pitt was fully encased from head to foot in a Viking Pro Turbo 1000 heavy-duty vulcanized rubber dry suit. She wore the black-and-red suit instead of a lighter wet suit because it totally sealed every inch of her body, not so much as protection from the mild water temperature but as a deterrent to the chemical and biological contamination that she had planned to encounter during her assessment and monitoring of the coral. She glanced at her compass and made a slight turn to the left, kicking her fins while clasping her hands behind and under her twin air tanks to reduce water resistance. Wearing the bulky suit and AGA Mark II full face mask made it seem easier to walk on the bottom than swim over it, but the often sharp and uneven surface of the coral made that nearly impossible. Her physical contours and facial features were shrouded by the baggy dry suit and full head mask. The only clues to her beauty were the exquisite gray eyes gazing through the face mask lens and a wisp of red hair that showed on her forehead. Summer loved the sea and diving through its void. Every dive was a new adventure through an unknown world. She often imagined herself as a mermaid with salt water in her veins. Urged by her mother, she had studied ocean sciences. A top student, she graduated from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, where she had received her master's degree in biological oceanography. At the same time, her twin brother, Dirk, had achieved his degree in ocean engineering at Florida Atlantic University. Soon after they returned to their home in Hawaii, they were informed by their dying mother that the father they never knew was the special projects director for the National Underwater and Marine Agency in Washington, D.C. Their mother had never talked about him until she was lying on her deathbed. Only then did she describe their love and why she let him believe that she had died in an underwater earthquake twenty-three years before. Badly injured and disfigured, she thought it best that he live his life unencumbered, without her. Several months later she gave birth to twins. In memory of her undying love she had named Summer after herself, and Dirk after his father. After her funeral, Dirk and Summer flew to Washington to meet Pitt Sr. for the first time. Their sudden appearance came as a total shock to him. Stunned at confronting a son and daughter who he had no idea existed, Dirk Pitt became overjoyed, having believed for more than twenty years that the unforgettable love of his life had long since died. But then he was deeply saddened to learn she had lived all these years as an invalid without telling him and had died only the month previously. Embracing the family he never knew he had, he immediately moved them into the old aircraft hangar where he lived with his huge classic car collection. When he was told that their mother had insisted they follow in his path and become educated in the ocean sciences, he orchestrated their employment with NUMA. Now, after two years of working on ocean projects around the world, she and her brother had embarked on a unique journey to investigate and gather data on the strange toxic contamination that was killing the fragile sea life on Navidad Bank and other reefs throughout the Caribbean. Most parts of the reef system still teemed with healthy fish and coral. Brightly hued snappers mingled with huge parrot fish and groupers while little iridescent yellow-and-purple tropical fish darted around tiny brown-and-red sea horses. Moray eels looking fierce with their heads protruding out of holes in the coral, opened and closed their jaws menacingly, waiting to sink their needle teeth into a meal. Summer knew they looked frightening only because that was their method of breathing since they did not have a set of gills on the back of their necks. They seldom attacked humans unless they were antagonized. To be bitten by a moray eel, one almost had to place a hand in its mouth. A shadow crossed above a sandy gap in the coral and she looked up, half expecting to see the same shark returning for a closer look, but it was a flight of five spotted eagle rays. One peeled off the formation like an aircraft and cruised around Summer, staring curiously before swooping upward and rejoining the others. After traveling another forty yards she slipped over a formation of horny gorgonian coral and came within view of a shipwreck. A huge five-foot barracuda hovered over the debris, staring out of cold, black beady eyes at all that took place in its domain. The steamship Vandalia was driven onto Navidad Bank in 1876 during a fierce hurricane. Of her one hundred and eighty passengers and thirty crewmen, none survived. Listed by Lloyd's of London as lost without a trace, her fate remained a mystery until sport divers discovered her coral-encrusted remains in 1982. There was little left to distinguish Vandalia as a shipwreck. A hundred and thirty years on, the bank had covered her with anywhere from one to three feet of sea life and coral. The only obvious signs of what was once a proud ship were the boilers and engines that still protruded from the twisted carcass and exposed ribs. Most of the wood was gone, long rotted away by the salt water or eaten by critters of the sea that consumed anything organic. Built for the West Indies Packet Company in 1864, Vandalia was 320 feet from the tip of her bow to the jack staff on her stern, with a 42-foot beam and accommodations for 250 passengers and three holds for a large amount of cargo. She sailed between Liverpool and Panama, where she unloaded her passengers and cargo for the rail trip to the Pacific side of the isthmus where they boarded steamers for the rest of the journey to California. Very few divers had salvaged artifacts from Vandalia. She was difficult to find in her camouflaged position amid the coral. Little was left of the ship after being crushed that horrible night by the mountainous waves of the hurricane that caught her in the open sea before she could reach the safety of the Dominican Republic or nearby Virgin Islands.
Excerpted from Trojan Odyssey by Clive Cussler Copyright © 2004 by Clive Cussler. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted February 3, 2007
I just finished reading this book and found it to be boring, not as thoroughly researched, and full of errors - more so than usual. While the plot is OK and enjoyable enough, I still think Inca Gold or even Atlantis Found as better books. This read like a tired version of Dirk Pitt novel - it really didn't 'feel' like a Clive Cussler novel was this written by a ghost writer?? A number of errors that I can remember in particular include: (1) The ship that Jason sailed on was the 'Argo' not the 'Argonaut' the Argonauts were the Greek heroes that sailed with Jason! (2) Fuel Cell technology that uses Nitrogen and then produces water as its output waste??? I mean at least do a little research on fuel cell. The reason why Hydrogen produces water in the first place is because the hydrogen ion produced bonds with oxygen to produce water while generating electricity. How can you produce H2O WITHOUT the H??? (3) How could Summer be the 'Daughter-In-Law' of Loren Smith Pitt?? Shouldn't she be the Step-daughter?? (4) Pumps in the tunnel... why would you need pumps in the tunnel when the water pressure at that depth is enough to induce water flow? He probably meant a turbine which can produce electricity when connected to a generator. Some additional comments: Why does he kept referring to China as 'Red China'? Nobody refers to China as that any longer - even in 2003 when this book was published. He never did place a connection between what Odyssey was doing and Hurricane Lizzie! I suspect he meant to include that in the book, i.e. that the freakish super hurricane was brought about by climactic changes that occurred because of the experimentation or whatever by Odyssey. What happened to that gentleman Dirk and Al met at the tavern on their way to the heavily guarded Fort? Clive made it sound like there was something fishy about this character and never followed up on this thread. And what is the deal with that 'low cost' fuel cell thingymagingy that can produced with 8 parts?? 8 parts?? Are you hallucinating? Even the most rudimentary wind-up toy requires more than 8 parts, let alone an ultra-sophisticated piece of technology. Why didn't he just leave well enough alone. Clive puts too much useless details in this book that made it even less plausible than it already is. I would have been willing to gladly suspend disbelief given the genre of the book, but this calls for beyond even that! It's ok to inject Sci-fi elements into a book of this kind, but please at least do some research and put some semblance of plausibility scientific or otherwise into your stories. Clearly Clive is very well versed in automobiles, marine science, sailing, piloting choppers - but for those that he is not, I wish he'd stop cutting corners just to get a book out in print. Mr. Cussler please do your research or fire your editor!
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 15, 2008
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Posted June 3, 2012
The book begins with a new theory of the Trojan War - that it actually involved the Celts. This was the first 31 pages of the book, and I had a hard time getting through this. I wanted to get on with the book, so after more or less skimming through this introduction, I stuck with it and finally did get to the actual story.
I hadn’t read any of Cussler’s other books, and the main character, Dirk Pitt, surprised me at how James Bondish he was. He was pretty much a cross between Bond and Jacques Cousteau. He would, without thought to his own safety or the dangers involved and sometimes without even a plan of action, dive into any dangerous situation – but it always seemed to turn out all right. I also found it confusing that his son was also named Dirk, so we have Dirk and Dirk in the same book.
As far as the storyline, it seemed to be several loosely connected stories. There was a floating hotel and a hurricane, which seemed to destroy everything in its path - yet Pitt (the elder) seemed to easily fly in and save the day. Cussler convinced me through most of the book that it was researched well, with the exception that it mentioned several times that hurricanes travel east rather than west. The story seemed to have some interesting speculative science in it. For me the book seemed rather long. I actually read another book when I was somewhere in the middle of Trojan Odyssey, then returned to it and finished it, and I’m a one-book-at-a-time person.
The author had a cameo appearance at the end of the book, and I wondered if this was a trademark of his other books. Guess I’ll have to read another Cussler book to find out. If you can suspend disbelief, this is an enjoyable book. I hadn’t read any other Cussler books, and this is the 17th book in the series, so perhaps I would have rated it higher if I had a better understanding of the main characters. I flip-flopped between 3 and 4 stars, but went with 4 simply because I hadn’t read the other 16 Dirk Pitt books.
Posted April 19, 2012
I have enjoyed the dirk pitt series from book one. I would purchase the book and I would have completed the book in less than 2 days. However, with this book it took me 3 weeks to finish. I had the most difficult time getting into the story and staying enthused and involved. I still have a mental block about how there can be children when summer and dirk never had sex. In any of the other early books it didn't take dirk 5 minutes to "do the wild thing" with women he had no clue who they were. If you read closely thru "pacific vortex" whenever summer and dirk were together one of them was unconscious or someone else was in the room. I'm hoping the next books in the series will get me back to enjoying them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 1, 2012
This book follows the adventures of Dirk Pitt and his children and they embark on their own careers in NUMA. It continues very well from Valhalla Rising.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I read this book with much anticipation. I wanted to read about Dirk's reaction to his new found children and how they would play into his life. The plot was a bit familiar, great challenges - overcome at the last minute... But there was the added drama of the "kids" involvement. I also am glad Clive took the time to show some of Dirks emotions toward his kids, his aging, and his need to "settle down" before it was too late to enjoy time with his new love. Yes there are a few problems with this book's research and believability, but the next one, Black Wind, is better, so keep reading!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2010
I have not finished the book, but can rate it based on things I cannot brook in a book. The floating hotel was lucky to make it to the eye of the hurricane. The NUMA ship came into the eye also and saved the hotel. But the story never depicts them going through the other side of the world's biggest hurricaine ever! How did they get through with 130 foot waves and 250 mph winds while cabled together with two cables when four of the same cables wouldn't hold? No, all of a sudden the storm is over the Dominican R. and the tugs arrive to take over the hotel. There are other GLARING holes. I hate it in movies, I detest it in books. Change my mind. Tell me how they got out of the eye.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2006
Was the first Clive Cussler novel I've read. I was surprised that I actually read it.(i usually don't read) It just keept me going and going... I finally found an author that I call my favorite.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 27, 2006
I don't know why I keep reading these Clive Cussler novels. It always the same old Dirk Pitt, Al Giordino, crazy plots, Supervillians who want to rule the world, underwater action, artifacts from a lost civilization, and then I remembered why I've been reading these crazy novels for more than 20 years....There great! They are funny, exciting, historical, well written, they are also too short and there is long of a wait between them. Reading a Cussler novel is pure reading pleasure. I can't wait fo the next one!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 17, 2005
Posted February 11, 2005
This is my first Clive Cussler novel, and I am very impressed. I hope all the historical reference's he's written in this novel are accurate. Anyway, as mention this is a great book and a very laughable ending that all Cussler fans will find most enjoyable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2004
A long time reader of Mr. Cussler's work, I did enjoy the book immensely, however, I do agree that the 'Spector' villian wasn't quite as bad as the villians usually are. Glad to see Dirk finally marry Loren, and maybe someone needs to enlighten the major reviewers that 'Summer' is Dirk Sr.'s daughter, not just 'some marine biologist'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 27, 2004
I'm an unabashed Clive Cussler nut; I read everything the man writes. As with all Dirk Pitt novels, I devoured this tale while enjoying historical references, feats of dashing and heroic men, and the continued presences of a strong female protagonist (Summer) other than Lauren. The only complaint I have is that Spector just didn't seem diabolical enough; not like some of Cussler's other baddies that have really caught my imagination.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.