The banks of the early 20th-century western United States have been plagued by the notorious “Butcher Bandit,” a coldblooded, methodical killer whose primary signature is his lack of a trail. Millions of dollars have been robbed, dozens of people killed, and there is no pattern to allow investigators even a hint of where he might strike next. The government hasn’t any idea how to hunt down this outlaw, so they turn to the Van Dorn Detective Agency.
Special Agent Isaac Bell gathers a handful of operatives, sifts through the mountain of data already gathered, and finds precious few clues. Following them down one by one, he lands in San Francisco, lays a trap, and prays that his quarry takes the bait. It is April 1906, and completely unpredictable events create a suspenseful backdrop to this exciting tale of cat-and-mouse during the “Age of Synergy.”
Clive Cussler is a talented plot developer and creator of genuine characters. The story stands on its own, even in a world lacking in modern transportation or communication. Although difficult to imagine, the author skillfully thrusts the reader into a time where people still had to worry about food every single day, could not pick up a telephone and see how their sister was right now, or dial 911 when an emergency arose. Other writers certainly present this period in their tales, but few do it to the level that brings out real emotion on the part of the reader.
Rated: Mild. No foul language, but a few “on-screen” murders, and some low-level descriptions of physical arousal.