I've been on vacation all week, doing my best not to think about work. Since I knew we'd be spending a few days camping, I decided to push the review pile to the side and do a little pleasure reading. I didn't have any specific titles in mind, but I knew precisely what kind of books I wanted to enjoy.
First up, I made sure we stopped at the drug store on our way out of town. I wanted a Clive Cussler adventure to read, and there's always a new one on the paperback rack, so I figured I would take my chances with what was available. I was hoping for a new Dirk Pitt story, or perhaps something from the Isaac Bell series, but what I ended up with was a copy of The Tombs, the fourth Fargo Adventure. I knew nothing about Sam and Remi Fargo, but the cover blurb hit all the right notes - archaeologist . . . secret historical site . . . hidden tomb . . .treasure hunters - so I gave it a shot.
I'm glad I did. Yes, it's a formulaic bit of storytelling that manages hit on pretty much all the genre clichés, but that's okay. Actually, it's more than okay, it's precisely what I expect from a Cussler novel. It's familiar and enjoyable - a fast-paced, easy read that 'feels' authentic in terms of history and technique. As for Sam and Remi, they're a thoroughly enjoyable couple of protagonists, and the members of their support team are interesting in their own right, particularly Tibor, the resourceful taxi-driver.
The story is a fun one, built around a globe-trotting race to discover a series of treasures buried by Atilla the Hun, all leading to the final resting place of his own jewel-filled golden coffin. It's the Fargos versus a crooked Hungarian mobster and his Russian hired gun, with special appearances by local law enforcement and historical antiquities authorities. Many of the treasures are far too easily located, requiring nothing more than two shovels and the cover of darkness, and the speedy removal of a thousand skeletons from a battlefield strains credibility, no matter how many graduate students help out, but the excavation of the final tomb is worth the wait.
The final climax is, perhaps, a bit unnecessary in its excessiveness, but it's nice to see that there are consequences for running afoul of the bad guys. It's not great literature, and certainly not comparable to the best Dirk Pitt adventure, but The Tomb is better than most of the competition, Dan Brown included.