Golden Buddha

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The ship called the Oregon, and its intrepid crew, were first introduced in Clive Cussler’s 1997 novel Flood Tide. The Oregon appears to be a rusted and dilapidated tramp steamer, captained by a drunken derelict of a man and crewed by an ill-assorted bunch of scurrilous misfits. The inside of the ship, however, is packed with state-of-the art equipment of every sort, and when he removes his filthy disguise, the captain is the handsome adventurer and entrepreneur Juan Cabrillo. Cabrillo leads a crack crew of specialists in all manner of high technologies—men and women who are masters of astonishing range of weapons, tools, equipment, disguises, subterfuges, petty larcenies, and grand illusions. The Oregon and its crew are mercenaries available for hire to anyone with sufficient cash—and a sufficiently interesting (and not completely dishonorable) assignment.

When this tale opens, Cabrillo and his crew are completing their latest contract—rescuing eighteen captives from within a fortress-prison in Cuba. No sooner is the assignment completed, then they are off to the Far East to begin work on a new contract. Their mission: to steal a priceless 600 pound golden artifact in Macau, and then transport it twenty-five hundred miles to the mountain kingdom of Tibet in time to facilitate the overthrow of that country’s Chinese conquerors and to reinstate the Dali Lama as the newly freed nation’s rightful leader.

When he is writing solo, Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt thrillers are always distinguished by some of the most grandiose feats of individual daring-do ever to see print, coupled with extraordinarily imaginative—and almost plausible—reinterpretations of historical events and archeological findings. Cussler and Craig Dirgo seem intent on upping the ante in this new series. The Oregon crew, led by Captain Cabrillo, are a fantastic team in the classic mold of countless movies. Everyone is handsome and brave, as well as super- competent and multi-talented. And every seemingly impossible situation or inescapable situation can be saved or solved by the last-minute application of just the right esoteric skill or knowledge, or the use of the latest dazzling hi-tech weapon or tool. While Golden Buddha requires a major suspension of disbelief, luckily the speed of the narrative gives no time for a skeptical second thought. This is Mission Impossible on steroids.