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Inca Gold (Dirk Pitt #12)

Inca Gold (Dirk Pitt #12) - Clive Cussler

The vast amounts of gold the Inca possessed at the time of Pizarro is legendary, yet even as the Spaniards plundered the riches they began wondering if they had found everything.  Inca Gold is the twelfth book in the Dirk Pitt series by Clive Cussler as the titular character and his ever faithful friend Al Giordino begin their adventure with going on a rescue mission in the Andes only to end up needing rescue at the end in the Sea of Cortez.


In 1532 a fleet of ships sails in secret to an island in the middle of an inland sea. There they hide a magnificent treasure vaster than that any Pharaoh would ever possess. Then they disappear, leaving only a great stone demon to guard their hoard. In 1578 the legendary Sir Francis Drake captures a Spanish galleon filled with Inca gold and silver and the key to the lost treasure, which includes a gigantic chain of gold, a masterpiece of ancient technology so huge that it requires two hundred men to lift it and a large pile of diamonds worth more than 200 billion dollars that belonged to the last Inca. As the galleon is sailed by Drake's crew back to England, an underwater earthquake causes a massive tidal wave that sweeps it into the jungle. Only one man survives to tell the tale.  In 1998 a group of archaeologists is nearly drowned while diving into the depths of a sacrificial pool high in the Andes of Peru. They are saved by the timely arrival of the renowned scuba diving hero Dirk Pitt, who is in the area on a marine expedition. Pitt soon finds out that his life has been placed in jeopardy as well by smugglers intent on uncovering the lost ancient Incan treasure. Soon, he, his faithful companions, and Dr. Shannon Kelsey, a beautiful young archaeologist, are plunged into a vicious, no-holds-barred struggle to survive. From then on it becomes a battle of wits in a race against time and danger to find the golden chain, as Pitt finds himself caught up in a struggle with a sinister international family syndicate that deal in stolen works of art, the smuggling of ancient artifacts, and art forgery worth many millions of dollars. The clash between the art thieves, the FBI and the Customs Service, a tribe of local Indians, and Pitt, along with his friends from NUMA, two of whom are captured and threatened with execution, rushes toward a wild climax in a subterranean world of darkness and death – for the real key to the mystery, as it turns out, is a previously unknown, unexplored underground river that runs through the ancient treasure chamber.


This is the book that originally got me into the Dirk Pitt series—via audiobook—and over twenty years later it very much holds up as a fun adventure yarn that keeps the pages turning.  While the book isn’t perfect for various factors, the first being that the “main” antagonist went from being clever conman that kills when necessary to a raging would-be killer in one scene in the middle of the book that was jarring especially since his main henchman was already a wanton murderer who took pleasure in it.  Cussler switches with his female “lead” with Dr. Kelsey being replaced mid-book with Pitt’s on-off flame Loren Smith, but for once Smith is fully fleshed out and not giving off damsel-in-distress vibe like previous books.  The main positive of the book is that all the subplots are not only intriguing but have good characters like Billy Yuma that tie into the main plot as the book reaches its climax.


Inca Gold is the book I personally feel that the Dirk Pitt series began hitting its stride at least what I remember from the late-90s to the mid-00s.  Clive Cussler mixes characters, plot, and action to create a real page-turning adventure that will make you take a look around for more of his titular character.