- Featuring Isaac Bell, P.I.
- Clive Cussler’s thrill-a-minute mystery novel, The Spy, is a coast-to-coast romp
- Here is a sampling of what’s in store for readers of The Spy. In the course of this mystery:
- A good, mysterious game going on, keeps the reader reading
- The central characters are well-drawn and believable in the roles Cussler has chosen for them
- I recommend this for readers of mysteries with a high body count
Featuring Isaac Bell, P.I.
Clive Cussler’s thrill-a-minute mystery novel, The Spy, is a coast-to-coast romp
Cussler’s hero, Isaac Bell, has more lives than 10 cats.
He is a private detective in New York City and Washington, D.C., in the early years of the 20th century, working as lead operative of the Van Dorn Detective Agency, a group of detectives noted for their creativity, physical and mental toughness, and feared for their ability to keep on keeping on, whatever the cost, until they have their man. Or woman.
Isaac Bell is the prototype of the detective who survives every hair-raising, blood-curdling threat to life and/or limb, and is known throughout the area—be it New York’s Hell’s Kitchen or embassy row—as a man to be feared, not challenged.
In The Spy, Cussler has created a malefactor extraordinaire, a spy who shows no fear of Bell, but instead challenges him at every turn. The plot revolves around the actions of a disparate loosely organized group of people, some Americans by birth, some from other nations, some from organized crime in different cities, all of whom are attempting to upset the fragile alliances among the United States, England, Germany, France, Japan, and other nations.
These evil-doers go about their nefarious tasks in various guises, and Cussler makes sure the reader is always a bit on edge, unsure whether they are friend or foe, and for whom they are working. Some are traitors, some claim fealty to their homeland, others are in it for the money. Several could be simply mischief-makers. The Spy—the boss, the planner, the man in charge—could be any of these individuals, and Bell knows instinctively that The Spy won’t give up until either he or Bell is dead.
Here is a sampling of what’s in store for readers of The Spy. In the course of this mystery:
- Bell faces death on foot, in an automobile, on trains, on ships, at a launching of an American battleship in a navy yard
- He meets danger and threat to his survival in the city, in a sheep meadow, in a house, in a bar—and an assortment of other venues
- He is shot at, frequently. He suffers non-fatal stabbings, poisoning and attempted strangling, repeatedly
- He is tossed off a train, falls from high places, nearly drowns, is threatened with blindness
- His friends and enemies die around him, and he himself leaves an impressive body count behind as he chases his unseen target coast to coast
A good, mysterious game going on, keeps the reader reading
This novel is great entertainment. The characters are varied, have widely different interests in the game they are all playing, some playing with more success than others.
The central characters are well-drawn and believable in the roles Cussler has chosen for them
Isaac Bell is clearly a man of great inventiveness in his derring-do, and is skilled in every kind of weapon that mystery writers come up with, creative enough to make weapons out of things at hand. The Spy—once we know who he or she is—is a bit, just a bit, of a surprise. There is a touch of sweetness, of tenderness in Cussler’s rendering of Bell’s relationship with his lover.
I recommend this for readers of mysteries with a high body count
Readers, especially those who enjoy following a mystery plot that leans toward the unbelievable at times will enjoy the time spent with Isaac Bell and company. Cussler keeps you guessing, although for my taste, he stretched the plot a little overlong. But that’s just nit-picking. It’s a fun read.