Executive Times






2007 Book Reviews


The Navigator by Clive Cussler




(Mildly Recommended)




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The latest predictable and formulaic novel from Clive Cussler is titled The Navigator, and is part of the Kurt Austin series. As expected, the good guys are consistently virtuous, and the bad guys are ruthlessly evil. The competence of the good guys overcomes all avarice. Readers who want this clarity and enjoy adventure tales will enjoy The Navigator, while readers who prefer more brain engagement will find little exercise on these pages. Here’s an excerpt, all of Chapter 2, pp. 38-40:


The pavement shook under the treads of the twenty­-five-ton Bradley Fighting Vehicle, warning of the troop car­rier’s approach long before it rumbled into view. By the time the vehicle had turned the corner and rolled down the boulevard, the man who’d been making his way along the deserted storefronts had slipped into an alley. He ducked into a doorway, where he would be invisible to the vehicle’s night vision scope.

The man watched the vehicle until it disappeared around another corner before he ventured from the alley. The thud of bombs that had presaged the advance of the American-led forces had stopped. The rattle of small-arms fire was constant but sporadic. Except for the firefights that ensued as the invaders mopped up pockets of re­sistance, there had been a pause in the battle as the coalition and the remnants of the defenders considered their next step.

He passed a defaced statue of Saddam Hussein, and walked an­other ten minutes until he came to a side street. Using a penlight that cast a thin red beam, he studied a city map, then he tucked the map and light back into his pocket and turned down the street.

Although he was a big man, several inches over six feet, he moved through the pitch-dark city as silently as a shadow. His stealth was a skill he had developed through weeks of training at a camp run by former members of the French Foreign Legion, U.S. Delta Force, and British Special Ops. He could infiltrate the most heavily guarded installation to carry out his mission. Although he was adept in the use of a dozen different methods of assassination, his weapon of choice was the crushing strength in his large, thick-fingered hands.

He had come a long way from his humble beginnings. His fam­ily had been living in a small town in the south of Spain when his benefactor found him. He’d been in his late teens and working in a slaughterhouse. He enjoyed the work of dispatching everything from chickens to cows and tried to bring some creativity to the task whenever he could, but something in him yearned for greater things.

It almost hadn’t happened. He had strangled an annoying coworker to death over a petty argument. Charged with murder, he had languished in jail while headlines made much of the fact that he was the son of the man who had been Spain’s official garroter back in the days when strangulation was the state-approved method of execution.

One day, the man who would become his benefactor arrived at the jailhouse in a chauffeur-driven car. He sat in the cell and told the young man, “You have a proud and glorious past and a great future.”

The youth listened with rapt attention as the stranger talked about the family’s service to the state. He knew that the youth’s father had been put out of work after the garrote machine was retired in 1974, ho~ he had changed his name and retreated to a small farm, where the family pursued a pitiful, subsistence living, and died, penniless and brokenhearted, leaving a widow and child.

His benefactor wanted the young man to work for him. He paid off the jailers and the judge, gave the grieving family more money than the dead chicken plucker could have earned in a hundred life­times, and the charges against the young man disappeared. He was sent to a private school, where he learned several languages, and, after he graduated, he was trained in military skills. The professional killers who took him under their wing recognized, as had his benefactor, that he was a talented student. Soon he was being sent on solo missions to remove those who were selected by his benefac­tor. The phone call would come with instructions, the mission would be carried out, and money would be deposited in his Swiss bank account.

Before coming to Baghdad, he had murdered an activist priest who was stirring up opposition to one of his benefactor’s mines in Peru. He’d been on his way back to Spain to meet his benefactor when he got the message to slip into Iraq ahead of the American in­vasion, and there he had taken up residence in a small hotel and made the necessary contacts.

He had been disappointed to learn that his assignment was not to kill but to arrange for the removal of an object from the Baghdad Museum. On the positive side, however, he had virtually a front-row seat to the invasion, with its resultant death and destruction.

He studied the map again and grunted with satisfaction. He was minutes away from his destination.


Having “grunted with satisfaction,” you know this character is one of the bad guys. Kurt would never grunt. I’ve wondered why Mattel hasn’t come out with a Kurt Austin action figure doll to be sold with each book. Maybe attracting younger readers would be another way to extend this brand. In the meantime, those readers looking for consistent writing packed with action and adventure will enjoy The Navigator.


Steve Hopkins, July 25, 2007



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The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the August 2007 issue of Executive Times


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