The second of the Isaac Bell novels, and the first where Cussler has a co-author for this series. Isaac Bell and the Van Dorn Detective Agency are back, this time chasing after someone who is deliberating sabotaging the Southern Pacific Railroad’s expansion efforts into Oregon. Yes, this book is set in 1906, in the age of railroads and when the West was still a bit wild, and it’s an ideal period for Cussler’s imaginative storytelling. There’s a lot more lawlessness to play with, and a lot more history to easily embed in the novel; there’s no need to start off with a historical figure losing some treasure, as has been standard in the Dirk Pitt/NUMA novels.
I don’t know if Scott brought the subtle differences to this book, or if Cussler just grew into Isaac Bell in this sequel, but the book is a much more enjoyable story than The Chase. Part of this comes from the genuine shock in the reveal of the Wrecker, which is compounded with an additional twist 2/3rds of the way through the novel that I simply did not see coming. Bell is more accessible and human in this novel, and while you know he’s never in any real danger, the writing is such that you still wonder how in the world he’ll survive the Wrecker.