cover image Dragon


Clive Cussler. Simon & Schuster, $21.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-62619-8

Dirk Pitt returns for his ninth and most improbable adventure as Cussler ( Treasure ) offers a page-turning romp that achieves a level of fast-paced action and derring-do that Robert Ludlum and other practitioners of modern pulp fiction might well envy. Less admirably, Cussler seasons his tale for the contemporary audience with a substantial dose of Japan-bashing in the tradition of the Yellow Peril of times past. The scenario posits that in 1945, a third atomic bomb directed at Japan disappeared into the sea when its B-29 transport was shot down. Half a century later, that long-forgotten weapon is the key to a tale in which wealthy Japanese nationalists have planted nuclear devices in major cities around the world as part of a grand scheme to create a new Japanese empire through international blackmail. A writer of the ``kitchen sink'' school, Cussler throws in wild automobile chases, pitched gun battles that apparently go unnoticed by the populace at large, a classic hunt with a human as prey, a newly discovered underground Nazi treasure trove, and even the author himself (as a bit player in an antique auto race). Solidly entertaining, this thriller is perfect beach reading. Literary Guild alternate. (June)