So I felt like doing something outside my usual milieu of urban fantasy and talk about one of my all time favorite authors, Clive Cussler. More specifically, his book Inca Gold. I’ve been reading Clive Cussler for about twenty years now (ouch, I’m old! Well, older) and he’s still a great author. This book is one of my favorites of his.
Like all of Clive’s books, we start back in time, to a piece of ‘forgotten history’ involving the Inca, the Chachapoyas and the Spanish. We’ll start with Sir Francis Drake, who is one of my all time favorite historical figures, ever since I did a report on him in the fourth grade. :) Drake has plundered a couple of Spanish vessels during his circumnavigation of the globe and found a magnificent collection of Inca artifacts. He sends one ship back around to the Straits of Magellan while he takes the rest of the plunder with him. The other ship never makes it, having run afoul of a tidal wave that leaves it stranded deep ashore. On board that particular ship is a quipu, a type of proto record that the Inca created using a series of knots in ropes. Obviously a very basic description, but click the link for more details.
Anyway, this quipu is the key to finding a long lost Inca treasure. Its a detailed map of the journey that a secret group of Inca troops made in order to hide this treasure from greedy Spanish conquistadors (and really, those guys were pretty greedy). Fast-forward about 400 years and an archaeologist and her team are excavating a sacrificial pool high in the Andes when they run into trouble under the water. Coming to the rescue are Cussler’s main heroes, Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino, who are working relatively nearby on a NUMA project. They fly in with their scuba equipment and come to the rescue, luckily finding Dr. Shannon Kelsey and her companion alive.
Lucky, that is, until the whole lot are kidnapped and marched through the jungle while Dirk is left to drown in the sacrificial pool. Of course, the bad guys underestimate Dirk’s tenacity. He climbs free with the help of a few items on his dive belt. Once he recovers at the destroyed base camp, he tracks Al and the others through the jungle.
Its a long, hard slog to catch up with and then rescue his friends. Dirk and Al manage to steal a military helicopter to get away from the bad guys. Military because the bad guys are antiquities thieves who have their sticky fingers in all levels of the Peruvian government in order to ease their smuggling, including the clout to order military intervention on two NUMA people and a number of untrained archaeologists and students.
Long story short, they get away but not without injuries and shenanigans. The adventure doesn’t end there. They just scratched the tip of the iceberg on a huge art and antiquities smuggling ring. Its a race to find what the bad guys are after, a literal treasure trove of Incan artifacts that could add to the knowledge of the short lived empire. This race will take Dirk and Al all over the US, Peru and Mexico.
The thing I really like about Cussler is that his adventures are fairly believable. Sure there are things that make you go yeah right but they aren’t really egregious things like supernatural creatures. Its more like I don’t believe that as being possible for the science of the time. At any rate, Inca Gold is one of my all time favorite books and one of the first that got me rereading books. Can you believe I used to be a one-and-done type of girl? What was I thinking?! At any rate, if you’re looking for something different from your usual, give Clive Cussler a shot. And if you like vintage automobiles like I do, definitely give his books a shot. There will be at least one new vintage car in each book! Rating: A+
Incidentally, the National Underwater and Marine Agency from his books is a real agency. Clive Cussler was behind the raising of the C.S.S. Hunley, so if you love old ships and shipwrecks, check them out. And again, if you like vintage autos, check out the Cussler Museum. One day, I will get there!