“The Chase” is a story of cunning and detection taking place in 1906’s western United States. We follow Isaac Bell, a renowned detective for the Van Dorn Detective Agency, as he relentlessly pursues the slippery and ingenious Butcher Bandit. Told from the perspective of both the protagonist and the antagonist, the story unfolds as the two are thoughtfully merged into one fast paced chase.
This is quite a departure for Clive Cussler as he breaks off from his usual familiar set of characters and themes and ventures into another realm altogether. It is his first period piece, taking place 100 years in the past. Normally Cussler opens his books with one or two episodes from history which will somehow come to affect the main story line in the present, but in this case he starts off in the 1950s and then jumps back in time to the early 20th century. Originally this deviation confused me, I didn’t realize how different this was going to be from Cussler’s other works. I knew it did not feature any of his usual characters, but it almost seems as though someone else wrote this book. You could have given me this book coverless, and I likely would not have guessed Clive wrote it. Not at first, because there are some hints throughout that point to a similar literary styling, but nothing that would make me say, “Yes, this is definitely a Clive Cussler novel”.
The deviation not withstanding, I enjoyed the book. I read it fairly quickly, but that was more of a function of my spending the day traveling on planes as opposed to not being able to put it down. The story was engaging, yet light, which is how I view most, if not all, of Cussler’s works. In it’s own right, the book was solid, and it will be interesting to see whether we get any other spurious novels like this one in the future. I’m not aware of how the sales are tracking, but I for one was a bit surprised to see a book that didn’t belong to an existing series.
As I find with a number of books, the ending was a tad rushed. It is very obvious that the beginning of the book which takes place in the future from the point of view of the main timeline, what happens at the end of the main story. It is still quite interesting as your mind attempts to fill in the gap from the two periods of time. However, even the jump back to the future at the end of the primary timeline didn’t really manage to resolve the story in a way that I was completely happy with. There were still a couple of unanswered questions. Despite that I’m still pleased enough to say seven out of ten.