If you have been reading this blog, you know I am a Clive Cussler fan. Or more precisely, a firm Dirk Pitt fan. I wasn’t very taken with NUMA books that did not star Dirk Pitt. And The Oregon Files were not something I cared for either. Isaac Bell I like a bit, as I said when I read The Thief. So I was eager to see what reaction I would have to The Fargos, especially when I learned that this series has an archaeology/ treasure hunt type motif.
Ok, so I love Indiana Jones. Who doesn’t? The Tombs is number 4 in the series and I expected the characters to be firmly established by this time. The plot was as ‘out there’ as any Clive Cussler book dealing with finding the treasure of Attila the Hun. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about him. There is a lot of historical background provided in the book, enough to give you an idea of the Huns. The Fargos are a millionaire couple who have gained the reputation of being treasure hunters. They are independently rich and do this whole treasure hunting business just for the thrill and to keep busy. We know they are skilled fighters but they mostly communicate with gestures. The Fargos simply don’t come alive and jump off the pages like Al Giordino or Admiral Sandecker.
The Fargos are diving on an old wreck off Louisiana when their German professor friend sends out a SOS. They pack their bags and head to Hungary where they learn that their friend has found a mass grave from 1600 years ago. the local bad guys are already on their tail and professor friend is kidnapped. The Fargos, aided by researcher Selma zero in on a local taxi driver as an ally. They rescue the professor, find a thousand old skeletons, find the first treasure and are off on the trail of the second after deciphering a clue left by Attila.
The story follows the Fargos as they flex their brains and brawn and traipse over Europe and Central Asia based on the clues left by an ancient emperor. They find spectacular treasures, outwit the most dangerous bad guys and manage to stay a step ahead. There are several attempts on their lives, but their survival training kicks in and they keep their head above water.
I loved reading The Tombs. It is fast paced, but maybe too fast paced? Anyone who has read the NUMA books will be sure to feel that there is a lot of detail missing here. For example, they just move around with a metal detector and when it pings, they dig and there is the treasure. Viola! They relay the message on the wall to their professor friend who translates it immediately and there is no puzzle there. The message very straightforwardly points to the next location. Et Viola! The Fargos pop on another plane and again start prospecting with their metal detector. Even the Hardy Boys needed some more time to unravel a clue. The whole story seems to be in Fast Forward mode. There is no anticipation at all, because the minute a problem is posed, the answer is revealed in the next paragraph. The Jaya Jones book I am reading now is so diametrically opposite!
Will I read any Fargo adventure again? Probably yes. I would choose this type of book in a waiting area or while traveling when I want to read something interesting, but can’t devote a lot of thought and attention to it. Overall, I would call it lukewarm at best because I expect so much more from Clive Cussler, and from a treasure hunt story.
Oh yeah, and no deadly beetles or booby traps either!