Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos, “Lost City”

In another installment of the NUMA series, Lost City follows the Fauchards, a mother-and-son team who are ruthless in their thirst for domination; with an impressively complex plan, the two are planning to take over the world using the Earth’s most precious resource: water. When the NUMA team uncovers their scheme, the mother-son duo will confront their greatest challenge: the world’s go-to James Bond, hero of the day, savior of the seas, Kurt Austin.

Plot Overview: Seaweed, Glaciers and Ambition

With a precious lockbox between his feet and an ancient helmet atop his head, Jules Fauchard is flying to Switzerland. When his plane is shot down, he lands in a glacier and is frozen, only to be discovered by a NUMA team and attractive archaeologist Skye Labelle nearly 100 years later.

Across Europe, Dr. Angus MacLean is seeking refuge in a remote Greek monastery. After working on a top-secret project, MacLean discovers that his colleagues have all died in apparent accidents – and he is next in line. Captured and taken to a remote island off the coast of Scotland, he discovers the horrific effects of his work; MacLean and a group of scientists have inadvertently created cannibalistic, red-eyed mutants.

The Trouts, meanwhile, have recently learned about Gorgonweed, a vicious species of seaweed that threatens to take over the oceans. As they investigate, Paul and Gamay take a side trip to see the Lost City, a collection of underwater towers that contain a useful enzyme, one that the Fauchard family is harvesting for unknown reasons.

Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala, with a bevy of underwater vehicles and tools at their disposal, will unravel the connection between the Fauchards, the mutants and the Gorgonweed. Although their lives will be put in danger, the NUMA team will escape unharmed and save the world in the process.

Criticisms and Compliments

Clive Cussler has an established recipe for his NUMA series: start with one or two historical anecdotes that conclude with a death, disappearance or otherwise unresolved element; add present-day Kurt Austin and his merry band of scientists, busy investigating various oddities that seem unrelated to one another and to the previously mentioned anecdote; toss in a dash of psychopathic or otherwise megalomaniac character seeking world domination; add a pinch of romance with a beautiful woman who cannot help but be attracted to the virile, platinum-haired and blue-eyed Austin; cook for approximately 500 pages. Should serve one reader for a period of two to five days.

Cussler and Kemprecos’s NUMA Files series is predictable, but they stick with their formula for one reason: it works. As the fifth book of the series, Lost City is a fast-paced novel that contains all the thrills and conspiracies guaranteed to entertain a reader. The NUMA Files should not be read for the lackluster quality of the writing, the character development or even the authenticity of the stories; it should be read for the action-packed plots. It doesn’t really matter who Austin, Joe Zavala and the Trouts are; what matters is how quickly, and with what fancy underwater devices, they can thwart an outrageous plan that threatens the world order. This series is a good read for those with a taste for excitement – and corny one-liners.


  • Cussler, Clive and Paul Kemprecos. Lost City (The NUMA Files). Berkley, 2005 ISBN 9780425204191

Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos, “White Death”

When Kurt Austin and his team of investigators stumble upon the mysterious Oceanus Corporation and their greedy plot to seize the world’s supply of fish, they take advantage of every tool, every mode of transportation, every person – and, for Kurt Austin, one attractive woman – to save the planet. Although farm fishing would not appear to be thrilling material for a spy novel, in White Death, with heroic Austin ready to save the day, it is a fresh topic, one that makes for a surprisingly action-packed novel.

Plot Overview: Murder, Conspiracy and Frankenfish

During the Spanish Inquisition, Diego Aguirrez, a Basque sailor known for his extraordinary skills on the sea, has two precious relics in his possession. With a ruthless investigator tracking him, he charts a course as far from Spain as he can get. Later, during the 1930s, a German Zeppelin crashes in the Arctic, not far from where Aguirrez was “lost” at sea.

Off the coast of the present-day Faroe Islands, the Sea Sentinel, a ship belonging to a radical environmentalist group, is protesting a local custom of capturing and killing pilot whales. When the Sea Sentinel suddenly powers toward a Danish cruiser, Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are called on to rescue those trapped in the sinking ships.

Austin and Zavala quickly learn that the Sea Sentinel was sabotaged, and the crash was manipulated by an outside power source. As they follow clue after clue, the two men, and Paul and Gamay Trout, learn of the “Frankenfish,” a horrific species of otherwise harmless salmon that has been genetically altered. The Dr. Frankenstein of genetics, Frederick Barker, and his band of violent Inuit tribesmen will stop at nothing, not even Kurt Austin, to release the mutant fish into the world’s fresh water resources.

Criticisms and Compliments

White Death is a novel not so far-fetched, not so fantastic and not so removed from reality that it is plain unbelievable. It has elements of the ridiculous – like the so-called Frankenfish – but the plot and the dialogue are entertaining. Austin and Zavala have a collection of cheesy one-liners to pull out at every occasion, but they are, in this novel, humorous, adding levity to what are usually action-packed, sometimes violent scenes.

Like all of the NUMA Files novels, there are several plotlines that need to be tied together; in White Death, the connection between each plot is not too thin or outrageous, and Cussler and Kemprecos provide a neatly-tied bow of story threads at the end of the novel. White Death is an exciting, interesting read, one that features classic heroes and fantastically-depraved villains.


  • Cussler, Clive and Paul Kemprecos. White Death. Berkley, 2004 ISBN 9780425195451

Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos, “The Navigator”

A complex novel centered on the theft of a precious Phoenician statue, The Navigator follows various leads that point to one possible location of the lost Ark of the Covenant. With Kurt Austin at the helm, the discovery will be made with the best of intentions. But one man, a typical Cussler megalomaniac villain, will stop at nothing to fulfill what he believes to be his family’s destiny. Cussler and Kemprecos deliver another action-packed and plot-driven novel with The Navigator.

Plot Overview: Murder, Greed and History

About 900 B.C., a Phoenician man secretly delivered an item to the Americas; while trying to leave, he was ambushed by his brother. In 1809 Thomas Jefferson, using a code, writes to Meriwether Lewis of a discovery. On his way from the Louisiana Territory to Washington, Lewis is mysteriously killed. In 2003 the Baghdad Museum is ransacked, and a Phoenician statue is stolen.

Carina Mechadi, an attractive investigator for the UN, manages to track down the stolen statue. When the ship she is traveling on is waylaid by pirates, the statue is stolen for a second time. Luckily for Carina, Austin comes to her rescue, saving her from a would-be rapist. The two, with the help of Joe Zavala and Paul and Gamay Trout, embark on a wild-goose chase throughout the U.S. and the Middle East. In order to recover the statue, however, they must also unravel its secret.

Waiting behind the action is Viktor Baltazar and his evil henchman, Adriano. A narcissistic, powerful criminal, Baltazar believes himself to be invincible. Although he attempts to continue his family’s legacy by possessing the statue, Baltazar neglects to consider Kurt Austin and his ostensible superhuman abilities.

Criticisms and Compliments

Like Blue Gold, The Navigator traces Austin’s heroic events as he manages to save a beautiful lady – with whom he inevitably has some romantic chemistry – and prevent a power-hungry, irrational man from acting out a complicated plan that will be detrimental to the world’s balance. Kurt Austin is a classic hero, but his ability to make daring rescues, one after another, with positive outcomes and little to no wounds becomes unbelievable. Cussler’s plots also tend to be farfetched, but his explanations of historical possibilities, such as the Phoenicians reaching the Americas long before any other explorer, seem plausible. The Navigator is a fascinating read, and Cussler and Kemprecos neatly tie up the loose threads of the intricate plot.


  • Cussler, Clive and Paul Kemprecos. The Navigator (The Numa Files). Putnam Adult, 2007 ISBN 9780425222362

Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos, “Blue Gold”

Kurt Austin and his right-hand man and partner, Joe Zavala, are deep into a high-speed boat race when a pod of dead whales floats to the surface. The presence of the massive, decomposing creatures puts a quick and destructive end to the race and leads Austin and Zavala into an elaborate mystery. With the help of Paul and Gamay Trout, the group of NUMA investigators will risk their lives to stop a megalomaniac seeking to privatize water sources.

Plot Overview: Whales, Water and Money

In 1991 Professor Francesca Cabral is flying from Sao Paolo to the United States when the pilots suddenly change course. She discovers they are hired guns, and in the ensuing fight, her bodyguard and both pilots are killed. Francesca and her world-changing scientific development go down with the plane – or so it seems.

Ten years later, Paul and Gamay Trout are studying dolphins in the Venezuelan rainforest. When a favor for their host turns into a battle, their survival hinges on escaping through the untamed forest. During the getaway, the Trouts stumble upon their own mystery, one which will eventually converge with Austin and Zavala’s investigation.

In searching for the source of the whales’ deaths, Austin and Zavala travel to Mexico, where they come across a common tortilla factory – except that it has an advanced, underwater facility. After the facility mysteriously explodes, Austin and Zavala track down a Scandinavian Amazon, a power-hungry, wealthy monster who dreams of absolute authority over the world.

Criticisms and Compliments

Cussler and Kemprecos churn out another terrific “NUMA Files” novel with Blue Gold. What is so entertaining about Cussler’s plots is how realistic they seem; the privatization of water and threats to the world’s water supply could be ripped from headlines. Moreover, Cussler and Kemprecos take it upon themselves to emphasize the moral and ethical consequences of trying to manipulate the distribution of water, one of the planet’s most valuable resources.

Blue Gold, like most Cussler novels, contains frequent action sequences, which Kurt Austin has the talent of surviving; no matter how dangerous or impossible, Austin will come out fairly unscathed. However, Blue Gold, like The Navigator, starts out at a moderate pace, but gains speed as the plot moves forward. It is worth reading the first hundred pages just to get into the flow of the action. Blue Gold is an exciting, fascinating read – the real question is why Hollywood hasn’t come knocking at Cussler’s door.


Cussler, Clive and Paul Kemprecos. Blue Gold: A Novel from the NUMA Files. Pocket (Reprint edition), 2010 ISBN 9781439188613