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by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo
Michael Joseph, October 2005
416 pages
ISBN: 0718145666

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Eric the Red finds a meteorite in Greenland and builds a shrine around it. Many of his men die from a strange wasting disease.

In modern times, a tramp steamer, the Oregon, is at a pier in Reykjavik. The ship is actually an armed state of the art warship, belonging to the Corporation, whose chairman is Juan Cabrillo, an ex-CIA agent. They are in Iceland to protect the emir of Qatar while he is attending a conference.

John Ackerman, an archeology student researching for his doctoral dissertation, finds the hidden entrance to the Cave of the Gods, Eric the Red's shrine containing the radioactive bit of astronomical detritus. He sends an email back to his mentor, but the message is intercepted by an agency of the US government. A traitor within the agency then informs a third party of the find.

The CIA sends Cabrillo after the meteorite. It could be used to fabricate a dirty bomb and wipe out a major US city if it falls into the wrong hands, but a snowcat is already traveling across the Greenland ice cap toward the young archeologist. By the time Cabrillo reaches him, the stone is gone, and Ackerman is dead.

The illegitimate son of billionaire Halifax Hickman is killed in Iraq. He sets out to destroy Islam. The radioactive stone resembles the Kaaba, the sacred stone of Islam. If he can substitute the meteorite for the Kaaba, then the pilgrims engaging in the tawaf, the circumlocution of the sacred stone, will die. And, in addition, an atomic bomb has gone astray, and there is a vial of plague bacilli on the loose. He plans to attack several sites holy to Islam AND an Elton John concert and take care of all his enemies.

This is a typical Cussler high intensity thriller. It's just that Cabrillo and his associates seem like pale copies of Dirk Pitt, Al Giordano and the other denizens of NUMA. A poor Cussler however, still makes for good airplane or beach reading.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, February 2006

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