Clive Cussler, Author, Dirk Cussler, Author . Putnam $27.95 (544p) ISBN 978-0-399-15259-7

A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred review.

BLACK WIND Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler . Putnam , $27.95 (544p) ISBN 0-399-15259-8

About halfway through this rip-snorting adventure thriller, a "white-haired man" rescues heroes Dirk Pitt Jr. and his sister, Summer, from death by drowning. That man is revealed to be author Cussler (Trojan Odyssey , etc.), reminding Dirk of "an older version of his own father," legendary oceanographer Dirk Pitt, hero of Cussler's previous novels. Just as the primary action baton is passed in this tale from Pitt Sr. to Jr., readers may note that Cussler's coauthor is his own son. But even if Cussler is beginning to pass on his writing baton, he's doing so with panache: thriller fans will revel in this action-packed yarn of land- and sea-based derring-do stuffed with technical details on matters from biochemical weapons "chimeras" to rocket launches. The villain is a South Korean industrialist working for the North Koreans with an eye toward unifying Korea by ridding the country of American troops, allowing for an invasion of the South. His plan is to aim a sea-borne rocket filled with a combo of deadly viruses at Los Angeles, with clues laying blame on Japanese terrorists, thus distracting America while the North makes its move. But villain and modus operandi matter less than the series of exciting hairbreadth escapes wrought by Dirks Jr. and Sr. and Summer—including Dirk Sr.'s escape from being poached alive in a minisub trapped underneath massive rocket boosters spewing an inferno of flames. There's a slight, nasty gloss of "yellow peril" on the villain and his actions, and it's only the Americans who greet likely death with a grin and a quip, but that's a minor knock on some major entertainment that's bound toward the top of the charts. Agent, Peter Lampack. 750,000 first printing. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/11/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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