"The Striker" is the sixth novel in the New York Times-bestselling Isaac Bell series. In fact, this sixth book in the series actually goes back to the origin of Cussler's hero, Isaac Bell, and traces the beginning of his career with the Van Dorn Detective Agency. This prequel of sorts begins in 1902 when a bright, but inexperienced young man, Isaac Bell, who is only two years out of his apprenticeship as a Van Dorn detective, receives an urgent message from his boss. He has been hired to hunt for radical unionist saboteurs in the coal mines of West Virginia.
While working undercover, Isaac is a witness to a terrible accident that makes him realize there is more at stake in this situation than originally thought. Although he has been given only one week to solve his case, Bell suddenly finds himself pitted against two ruthless opponents. Their staggering ambition and cold-bloodedness are not about to let this wet-behind-the-ears detective stand in their way.
This historic thriller, based on the 1902 Coal Strike has the strikers, owners and bankers all weighed down by the union versus non-union issues of the day. However, as the book unfolds the unusual twists and turns of the multi-level plot leaves the reader wondering who the real protagonist may be. Watching Isaac Bell and his associates broaden their knowledge and experience as detectives was great character development on the part of Cussler and Scott.
While Isaac Bell works to unravel the scheme, he uncovers a wide-ranging plot to wreak havoc on the country's infrastructure.
What one can usually expect from the Isaac Bell series, is an unexpected end, and in this case, with an almost hilariously one dimensional protagonist.
Cussler and Scott also exceed expectations for this well-researched offering that is filled with interesting details of the time and graphic descriptions of the locale.
"The Striker" is a must-read for those who like a great story with heroes and villains that accurately reflect their respective roles. We find this series of historic thrillers particularly appealing because Isaac Bell is a mix of strong and smart and does not rely on space-age technology to solve his case.
By Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
$27.95 (hard cover)
-- Reviewed by: David and Nancy Beckwith, authors of the Will and Betsy Black adventure series