Newest Review: ... the unique selling point of this novel is that you follow the stories of two individuals the Butcher Bandit (main villain) and Isaac ... more
A dark evil killer is hunted by the authorities
The Chase - Clive Cussler
Member Name: darren55
The Chase - Clive Cussler
Advantages: Good first 200 pages
Disadvantages: the ending was a bit trite and expected
One of my great loves is a good adventure novel, this dates back to a kid when I used to read novels by Dennis Wheatley, Ian Fleming, and Jack Higgins. This love wained a little as adulthood and work came around and I foun myself reading more literature but just occassionally I would feel the need to have a bit of adventure and read a rocking good story.
Thats when I first encountered Clive Cussler, he's the American author of adventure stories, usually with a historical connection and has a love of boats, cars, guns, etc etc.
Cussler writes his normal adventure novels which whilst not in the class of the authors are at least enjoyable and if your sat on a beach somewhere help the time go whilst you get a tan and sip a cold beer, however, sometimes he pushes himself into other genre's and this is one of the examples.
This book is starts with the discovery of a steam train from a lake in 1950, it contains the remains of three men and is witnessed by a man who got off the train before it sank into the water. The man is an ex-employee of the Van Dorn organisation (this is a pre-runner to the FBI), and he takes us back to the reason for the steam engine being in there in the first place.
We are then taken back to 1906, a bank robber has been cutting a wave of desolation through the mid-west of America by his robberies and his actions of killing anyone present at the bank at the time, the man gets the name The Butcher Bandit. The bandit also confounds everyone by disappearing with ease each time he perpetrates his latest outrage.
The book then splits between the two men, one a member of the Van Dorn organisation and the other the butcher himself, we get into the mind of each and the chapters are solely on one or the other. This gives the tale a chance to be first person orientated and events in one chapter affects the events in the following chapters, so the Butcher does X which causes the agent to do Y etc. The story is good for the first 200 pages or so, we are led into the world of the bandit, how he escapes each time and what his normal life is. We are in some ways given a sense of superiority over the investigators as we know each time how he escaped detection and why he's doing the crimes.
The agent Isaac Bell, is always chasing as the name of the book suggests but he uses his considerable skills to force the bandit to start making mistakes. The first few robberies are told in gory and explicit detail and we are left in no two minds about the motives of the bandit and the integrity of those chasing him, however, the tone of the book changes half way through.
In the first half, the bandit is a classic anti-hero in some ways, gruesome in his activities but in some minds a classic anti-establishment figure who is causing the US government pain but in the second the reasons for his actions make it clear he has no redeeming features and far from a robin hood type character he's more a King John or classic robber baron.
So in the end, we the reader start to side with the agent and the government especially after a particularly after one brutal robbery, the book accelerates to a finish and we know what fate beholds the bandit. Indeed the end is classic Cussler, long on action short on any kind of reality but in his world its more than plausible to hijack a train and force the events which unfold. Cussler also has the habit of making death inpersonal and somewhat detached from reality in the end the book rather ends flatly, the promise of the early novel dies in a classic final scene act.
This for me was a shame, I wish in some ways he'd written a novel where the prepetrator is caught and dealt with by the justice system but he put in an explosive ending, would that be closure I wondered for the relatives of those he's killed in his crime spree?
I enjoyed the novel, Cussler is a master at the short chapter, high tension cliffhanger approach to writing but ultimately I felt he missed a chance to write a book with more depth and point than his previous novels.
I almost used the term made rather than write in the last sentence and in some ways it feels like a book which would make a great 90 minute film, the bandit is suave, sophisticated so you could easily see some handsome Hollywood leading man wanting to play the part especially as it has a dark side, George Clooney or Brad Pitt perhaps?
Anyway enough of that, its a good read but I'd borrow it from a friend or a library rather than buy it.
Summary: A decent effort I'd expect Cussler will return to the genre