(I reviewed this book over on my personal blog a couple of weeks ago. This series is one of the Big Discoveries I've made in 2012. I really have enjoyed the first two books in this series and want to post the review here in case y'all missed it.)
I read The Chase earlier this year and was completely entertained. The
Wrecker maintains the excitement, the intrigue, and the chess-like
machinations of the hero and the villain. The hero is Isaac Bell, a
detective of the Van Dorn Detective agency. A tall man with blond hair
and mustache, he is the imperturbable, stoic hero of many a story you've
read before. What sets him apart isn't his good looks, skill with a
gun, nor his hand-to-hand ability. It's that Bell actually gets beat up,
dirty, and flummoxed throughout both books I've read so far. He's a bit
like John McClain from Die Hard. He may win, but it'll exact a price.
The title character of The Wrecker is the villain. That nickname is the
moniker given to the man blowing up various railroads of the Southern
Pacific railway in the Cascade Mountains, Oregon, all in an attempt to
bankrupt the company. The president of the railway hires the Van Dorn
Detective Agency to stop it. Set in 1907, what follows is a wonderful
cat-and-mouse game between Bell and the Wrecker.
By giving his villain a nickname, Cussler is able to hide the true
identity of the Wrecker for more than half the book. Interestingly, once
the identity is revealed, Cussler actually fluctuates between the
actual name and the nickname. I found that a little odd. What really
sets this book apart from your general thriller is the timeframe. The
year 1907 is just modern and technological enough where you have the
beginnings of automobiles, phones, and planes. At the same time, it's
old enough to where railroads and telegraph are the primary means of
transportation and communication. What this mix does for a reader in
2012 is build in some interesting tension. If a hero in 2012 needs to
travel across the country from Oregon to New York, it's a plane ride of a
few hours. Need to contact some allies across the country? Use the cell
phone. Detective Bell can't do that. A trip across the continent takes
days. At one point, he needs to contact associates in Oregon while he's
in Los Angeles. With the telegraph lines cut, there is only one way to
communicate information: in person. That means, take the train. All of
this builds tension and the excitement increases.
I've only read three Cussler books, two in the last few months. They are
so well choreographed that they just sweep you along. The history is
always fascinating and the detail is accurate. If you are tired of the
modern techno-thriller, try a historical thriller featuring Isaac Bell.
Very good read.