The first of the Isaac Bell novels, the reader is introduced to a new era for Cussler – the end of the Wild, Wild West, when railroads brought civilization to the frontier.
The Butcher Bandit has been declared a ghost by local police across multiple states. He comes in, robs banks, shoots all witnesses, and disappears before anyone realizes he’s been there. No one knows what he looks like, no one knows how he gets in and out of town, and no one knows where he will strike next. Can Van Dorn Detective Isaac Bell, with his blend of cutting-edge science and no-nonsense practicality, stop the Butcher Bandit before the body count climbs? The outcome isn’t as clear as you might think.
While Cussler has adventure writing down to his own science, there’s something missing from this book. It’s fun and exciting, but there’s something by-the-numbers here, and that takes away from some of the ultimate enjoyment of the book. Thankfully, the problem rights itself in the sequel, and this is an excellent start to a hopefully long-lived series of books.