Dirk Pitt is everywhere

Last month at Babbling Books in Ontario, I was at the counter buying a John D. MacDonald paperback when an older fellow with a stack of books asked the clerk, “Who wrote the Dirk Pitt series?” She’d have come up with the answer, but since she was fumbling for it, I answered: “Clive Cussler.”

The man said he used to own them all but no longer did. He sped off and added a couple to his stack.

The only reason I knew the answer was that I’d read some of the news coverage of the “Sahara” movie lawsuit. Some of it involved the studio, which took a bath on the movie, saying Cussler overstated the sales of his suspense novels. I’ve never read one and doubt I ever will, but that’s how I learned of his Dirk Pitt character.

Last week, when I pulled into the parking lot of the CVS center in La Verne to eat at Red Devil Pizza, I noticed the sign for Book Rack on my immediate left. I checked them out; it was one of two used bookstores mentioned in my recent column that I’d never visited.

Nice little store. They also have some new books. Nothing cried out to me, but I would go back.

Odd thing was, a couple of older fellas were looking for books, and one said to the other, “Clive Cussler’s a good writer.” His friend agreed.

I don’t think the younger generation is hep to Clive Cussler, but to white-haired males, he must be the cat’s pajamas.

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  • Warren


    Depending on your tastes, you may not be missing much by not reading any of Clive Clusser’s novels. He has a couple of other series besides Dirk Pitt. The plots basically follow the same line. You have a good idea of the bad guys early on. I would say that if you are traveling, or lean towards reading through a book quickly — try one. The worst it can do is give you a headache. By the way, I enjoy reading the novels.


    [I never make it through books quickly, even potboilers, I’m afraid. Thanks for the clear-eyed view, Warren. — DA]

  • Dwain Kaiser

    Fast moving adventure novels… I think of them as bus readers (that’s showing my age there). I’ve read maybe half a dozen of the Dirk Pitt novels but they’ve all merged together in my mind into one book. You’re better off with the MacDonalds; Travis McGee is even worth a reread — something I wouldn’t do with Clive Clusser’s novels.

    Of course then there’s James Crumley…what a hell of an author. I think the opening sentence of The Last Good Kiss is one of the great opening lines of all time:

    “When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”

    Try James Crumley for real wordsmithing.

    Dwain Kaiser
    Magic Door – Quality Used Books
    In the Heart of the Art Colony