Corsair, book cover

Naval History, Politics, Religion and Action in a Single Thriller

Combining maritime and naval history with ancient and modern politics has enabled Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul to produce a good read to while away a long journey.

The thriller, Corsair is a result of collaboration between two writers and unfortunately it initially feels like it. The book opens with an 18th century battle between Barbary pirates and the navy of the fledgling United States of America but the writing feels clumsy. It is rather like a school essay where the writer is trying to impress by inappropriate use of long words or period language that does not ring true. It makes the first chapter somewhat stilted – quite a feat when describing a naval battle!

Fortunately it settles down into a more comfortable and undemanding thriller style. It has reasonable pace and thereby becomes an engaging read.

An Historical Starting Point

The story spans 200 years from an initial battle by the US Navy against Barbary pirates. Initially there are four story lines which creates complexity in the opening chapters. It gets easier as the various plots start to become connected although they do not fully converge until the very end of the book.

It quickly comes up to date and most of the story is set in the desert of North Africa and on the Mediterranean Sea. It is all based on private covert activity commissioned by the US government from the Corporation which operates a high-technology ship disguised as a decrepit freighter, the Oregon. In this case it is to find and if possible rescue the US Secretary of State whose plane has crashed in the desert on the way to a summit in Libya.

Plenty of Action and Military Technology

There is plenty of action that feels rather one sided in favour of the good guys who have the best technology. The reliance on technology is perhaps overdone but it would seem to be an essential feature of the Oregon files. Presumably readers who enjoyed earlier Oregon stories will enjoy Corsair.

In the main, the characters are not really well developed except in rather limited ways that comes out of their role. In that respect it feels like a film script which relies on an actor to give life to the character. As it stands several characters tend to blur into one another.

The final resolution of the story is somewhat abbreviated and for many readers it may feel all too predictable.

Conclusion

In this reviewer’s opinion Corsair is better than many thrillers but it is not amongst the best. That is disappointing for anyone who has enjoyed the maritime history documentaries fronted by Clive Cussler on satellite television. It is an undemanding book for a flight or a train journey but it does not have the depth to warrant a permanent place on one’s bookshelf.

Corsair (ISBN: 978-0-718-15444-8) by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul is published in hardback by Michael Joseph at £18.99

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