The Thief is an Isaac Bell adventure by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott. Although I first came across Clive Cussler while reading the NUMA files adventures, there are quite a few different characters introduced by Mr. Cussler in recent years. Dirk Pitt remains my favorite, and I didn’t care much for Kurt Austin or Juan Cabrillo, but Isaac Bell comes a close second.
The Van Dorn Detective agency is iconic, or rather, it has become iconic with these books. There is something awesome about the scope of the Van Dorn Agency, and their coverage across America. In a time when even telephone calls must have been at a premium, they communicate via telegraph which is now obsolete. Youngsters reading The Thief will find the telegraph as out worldly as Warp Drive, because they probably never use d it.
Our story begins on the luxury Cunard ocean liner Mauretania. Typically, almost all of Clive Cussler’s books begin with a date, and I have been thankful for it. But The Thief does not have any such date which seems to be a break from tradition. Only people familiar with the Mauretania will have a general idea about the timeline. There is a mention of the Titanic being built, which establishes the year as 1910-1911, I think. Isaac Bell is traveling with his friends the Abbots and his lady love Marion Morgan and is planning to pop the question. While enjoying a smoke on deck at night, Isaac thinks he hears something in the water. He is soon embroiled in a fight where the attacker plunges into the ocean. He meets a German scientist and a young American who are afraid for their lives and are guarding an important invention. Isaac takes on their security and mayhem begins on the Mauretania. Isaac and Marion tie the knot on board amidst all the chaos.
The villain who supposedly dies is called the Acrobat by the German professor who succumbs to an attack. Isaac’s lady Marion is a talented film director who is excited about youngster Clyde Lynd’s invention. Clyde claims to have found the solution to synchronizing sound and picture on film. If you are a film buff, there is a lot of interesting history here for you. Every one ends up in California where Clyde Lynds is working hard on his invention and Marion gets a chance to direct an important film. Meanwhile, the attacks on Clyde continue and the Van Dorn detectives are in hot pursuit. As they unveil a treacherous plan, counter attacks follow. Isaac is at his energetic best, hopping on trains and shooting off transcontinental telegrams.
I had fun reading about the whole Hollywood life, and how a film company functions. Of course, this is the authors’ version, but it is interesting nevertheless. Will Isaac Bell find out who the Acrobat is or was? Why are the Germans so interested in Clyde’s invention? Is the Van Dorn Detective Agency going to win this one?
Isaac Bell first enthralled me in The Wrecker, and The Thief is equally enjoyable. This is a true adventure with a dashing rough and tough hero. A must read, for sure.