Prather’s Pick: An “Oregon” Files adventure
December 15, 2015
If you enjoy action/adventure/thriller novels, and if you enjoy novels with plots involving technology and drones, this week's book is for you. (It would make a great gift for somebody who enjoys these storylines, too.)
"Piranha" was written by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison, and the book was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons (2014). I found the book shelved with new titles at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.
Cussler has written a lot of books in several series. "Piranha" is from the "Oregon" Files Adventures, a No. "New York Times" bestselling series. Leading character Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the "Oregon" return in this 10th book of the series.
I'm a "dinosaur" when it comes to technology involving computers and drones, but even though I didn't understand that part of the novel's plot, the author writes in such a lively style, that I just wanted to keep reading to see what happened.
The book begins with a Prologue. The setting is Martinique, May 8, 1902. The SS Roraima, a Canadian cargo and passenger ship, is about to drop anchor in the city's harbor. First Officer Ellery Scott is concerned about Mont Pelee, a volcano that is spewing ash all over the place. The volcano is making a lot of noise, too.
When Scott voices concerns about the volcano, the captain says to go ahead with plans to go ashore and unload some lumber and potassium and load other cargo. However, they don't get time to unload. One side of the mountain blows apart, and a deadly flow of ash and gas is headed toward the city — and them.
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There isn't time to get away. Few people on the ship survive. Scott and three other crew members are the only ones not seriously injured. One man, in horrible condition, calls out to Scott. He's Gunther Lutzen, a German scientist. He has managed to save a notebook full of scientific notes and pleads with Scott to give it to his sister in New York. He also has a message for her, ending with "I found Oz." More about this later in the novel.
Next, the book moves to Chesapeake Bay, "9 Months Ago." Three well-known experts in the "drone community" have teamed up to carry out a government hijacking simulation to prove that a drone's control cannot be hacked and taken from its operator. Something goes very wrong.
Then, in Chapter 2, Juan Cabrillo enters the picture, though at first he is disguised as Buck Holland. When Habormaster Manuel Lozada goes out to inspect the boat, before it can unload its cargo, he can't believe his eyes. It's a broken-down boat, rusty, filthy and smelling terrible. He doesn't see why anyone would hire such a boat.
Captain of the "Dolos" is Holland who looks and smells as bad as the boat. He has a big belly, stringy hair, a handlebar mustache with food in it and filthy clothes. In short, he's "slovenly."
With Lozada is former Chinese marine Gao Wangshu. The reader doesn't know it at this point, but they are looking for a spy ship and when the two men leave the ship, Gao says this is the spy ship, in disguise. He calls Admiral Dayana Ruiz, the most powerful woman in the Venezuelan Navy. She sets out to capture the vessel.
I loved this part of the novel, because it was a surprise, indeed, that below decks the ship is elegant — such as a cruise ship. It's the "Oregon," a state-of-the-art intelligence-gathering vessel, carrying weapons and two submersible vessels. And Juan is not "slovenly" either — anything but "slovenly" — after he's out of his disguise.
If you like "thrillers" you will enjoy this book — a lot. There are twists, turns and other surprises in store for the reader.
The hardcover book sells for $28.95. If you can't find it in book displays when you're shopping, ask Downtown Books to order it for you or look for it at the Craig Moffat County Library.