The latest instalment of the Isaac Bell series highlighted to me that Clive Cussler really is the master of suspense and as Sunday Express puts it, ‘The Adventure King’. Along with Justin Scott, he has crafted an addition to the popular detective series that holds up to the high standard set by its predecessors.
Set in 1911 and approaching the height of Isaac Bell’s detective career, The Cutthroat begins with the Van Dorn Detective Agency taking the case of a wealthy business man seeking help to find a runway daughter determined to make her own way in life, while searching for fame on the theatre stage during the golden age of high society and sophistication. The hunt for the young woman leads the story toward a different path then usual for Isaac Bell, triggering a chain of events and discovery that reveals connections to a dark mystery spanning decades previous. Suspense and unexpected twists frequent the novel as Bell seeks to make sense of the sinister happenings, while calling on the Van Dorn resources all over America and internationally to uncover an elusive killer that chills even the most hardened among them.
The world in which Cussler has created the Isaac Bell series is a convincing blend of life in the emerging political and financial heart of New York and America at the turn of the century, resulting in convincing authenticity. The novels are clever and fast paced, keeping the reader engaged and curious. The Cutthroat is no exception. The main difference with this book is, in my opinion, how it breaks the mold in featuring a more glamorous side to New York and the rest of America by exploring the allure and ambition of the American theatre at it’s peak, rather then the rivalry and strife caused by the gangs heavily featured in previous novels. It is refreshing to have such a change, which I’m sure avid readers of the series will appreciate, while still giving first-time readers a taste of the classic Isaac Bell adventures.
The story itself was a courageous take on actual history that as a whole was extremely well done in the classic Cussler style, however the ending itself felt abrupt and hurried. I did enjoy the rest of the novel in terms of content and originality for the series; there was plenty of potential for a spectacular and strong conclusion but unfortunately it missed the mark for me. Clive Cussler and Justin Scott have done a commendable job in carrying on the Isaac Bell series and intertwining the lives of characters from books previous to the latest instalment, so I feel that The Cutthroat is still a good read and worthwhile in order to keep up with the progression of the Isaac Bell series.
Reviewed by Sarah Hayward
by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
Published by Michael Joseph