Excerpted from “Clive Cussler & Dirk Pitt Revealed” by Clive Cussler & Craig Dirgo.
The prelude, Clive’s first set in the past, describes a man on the edge of madness who is awakened aboard a ship by an undefined noise. Through clues, the astute reader realizes the man is aboard the Titanic and the ship is sinking. At gunpoint, the man forces one of the ship’s junior officers, names Bigalow, to show him below decks. There, the man locks himself in a vault to die with the ship. Bigalow survives.
As the novel progresses, we learn that a top-secret defense project called the Sicilian Project requires a mineral named byzanium, though to have been mined out of existence. The only traces that might still exist are located on a Russian island. A NUMA oceanographic expedition is used to provide the cover for a mineralogist to search the island. Pitt makes his appearance early and with excellent dramatic effect. As is the case in later works, he appears larger then life as he saves the mineralogist and carries him to safety.
It is learned that the island mine had contained byzanium but was fully mined, and a search is on to find out what happened to the mineral. Then we learn that the byzanium was placed aboard the Titanic, and an intricate and expensive plan is hatched to raise the ship.
The novel features a subplot about a deteriorating marriage along with a cast of Russian secret agents intent first on learning what the Sicilian Project is about and later attempting to stop the project by infiltrating the Titanic, then attempting either to take control of the ship or sink the vessel so the United States cannot recover the byzanium.
Pitt is lacking a true love interest in the story, though Clive alludes to his skill in seducing the opposite sex. It’s the ending that truly captures Clive’s style in convoluted plotting. After all the work to raise the Titanic, the millions of dollars that were spent and the lives of numerous people, we learn that the vault that should contain the byzanium is empty.
After hearing this, Pitt remembers that Bigalow had told him about the night the Titanic sank and about his confrontation with the madman who took him hostage. He returns to England, searches a grave in the town of Southby and finds the byzanium. At the end of the novel, Bigalow is buried at sea and the Sicilian Project is tested and proves successful. “