Overall, a disappointing outing from Cussler and Blackwood. In this novel, Remi and Sam Fargo, treasure hunters extraordinaire and generous philanthropists, find themselves up against the forces of a mysterious Ukranian crime boss who traces his ancestry to Persia, and Xerxes the Great. Both are after the secrets of the lost cellar of Napoleon and the potential treasure it will lead them to.
The major issue here is that there is no threat. Remi and Sam repeatedly face down the bad guys, and do so in non-lethal manners that allow the bad guys to escape and the Fargo’s to run free. Once or twice it might work, but after the third or fourth time it becomes repetitive, and the sense of threat and peril to the characters vanishes. You know they’re going to get out of it okay, so there’s no tension. This echoes through to the end of the book, which hits the climax and conclusion inside a handful of pages.
The mystery that the Fargo’s are following requires putting together obscure clues left behind by Napoleon and his chief confidant – an interesting idea, but a difficult one that doesn’t leave much room for the reader to figure out what is happening along with the characters. This lack of involvement, combined with transparent motivation for the stereotypical bad guy and muddled logic for involving the main characters, leads to a thoroughly unsatisfying read.
Cussler’s books are normally better than this. Skip this book; if you’re in the mood for Cussler, pick up a NUMA/Pitt or Isaac Bell book instead.