In 1950, Montana’s Flathead Lake gives up a dark secret: the remains of a steam locomotive (plus boxcar) and its dead, lost since the early 1900s with fortune on board. A cover-up by the railroad prevented the true story from being widely known, though the identities of the victims are on record. But what exactly happened?
Rewind to 1906, when agent Isaac Bell is put onto the case of the ruthless Butcher Bandit, a bank robber noted for killing all witnesses to his crimes. The cunning and imaginative thief plans his jobs down to the final detail, but Bell is an equally resourceful adversary. With the help of others at the Van Dorn Detective Agency, Bell manages to trace the Butcher Bandit, but encounters difficulty amassing enough evidence to secure a conviction.
The Chase is Clive Cussler’s only book in a quasi-western genre and his first novel in several years without a co-author. Written in an omnipotent style, the pace of the novel is good throughout, but overall it felt a little too light-weight, more like the novelization of a film – Bell comes off like a James Bond for his time. Most of the action seems highly unlikely for the early 1900s even if technically possible. Pure adventure that happens to be set in the past: it’s a story better suited to the big screen than the page.