A missing luxury yacht is found encased in an iceberg by a Coast Guard air patrol, but within a week of the discovery that bizarre sight won’t be the only thing that isn’t what it seems. Iceberg is the second published book of Clive Cussler’s series featuring Dirk Pitt, taking the U.S.A.F Major to the north Atlantic and Iceland then to Disneyland.
Taken away from his California vacation and dispatched by NUMA Director Admiral Sandecker to the titular iceberg in the North Atlantic, Dirk Pitt takes Dr. Bill Hunnewell to search for the ship before heading to Iceland. The two commandeer a U.S. Coast Guard cutter as a base of operations along the way, which proves fortuitous as the helicopter is low on fuel after a wild goose chase for the iceberg. Finding a way into the ship, they find it burned along with the crew as well as the owner, Kristjan Fyrie who is identified by Hunnewell who worked with him. As they head for Iceland, the two are attacked by a black jet and Hunnewell is mortally wounded while Pitt uses the helicopter to take out the jet before crash landing just off shore. Pitt survives an attempt on his life by two thugs disguised as local Icelandic police before eventually getting to the American consulate in Reykjavik. Sandecker offers to send Pitt back on his vacation, but as he suspects Pitt wants to find who killed him. The Admiral then orders Pitt to get close to Kristjan Fyrie’s twin sister who is now Iceland’s wealthiest person and who has shied away from the working with the U.S. government on a state-of-the-art probe, but Kirsti is engaged to fishing magnate Oskar Rondheim and Pitt decides to play a homosexual so as not to pose a threat to the man. After several escapes with Sandecker and a National Intelligence Agent respectfully, Pitt and Sandecker’s secretary are invited to party at Rondheim’s home which is a trap for several wealthy and politically important men from around the globe so they can die while a cabal of wealth businessmen that include Rondheim and Fyrie play to take over all of Central and South America. Rondheim beats the presumably gay Pitt and leaves him and the others to die in a remote part of Iceland. Pitt is able to find help and save nearly everyone, while in the hospital the head of the National Intelligence Agency swindles Pitt from NUMA to Disneyland so stop a duel assassination of Latin American leaders. Pitt gets revenge on Rondheim and then makes a deal with Fyrie, who had been Rondheim’s puppet after he learned Kirsti was actually Kristjan after a sex change.
Like The Mediterranean Caper this was a quick paced book, but this time there was a larger cast of characters instead of a tiny one that was present in both Pacific Vortex and Caper. Iceberg improved in narrative flow over its predecessor as well as making the characters a little more rounded, but still the one-dimensional characters were still prevent. While Dirk Pitt wasn’t as big of a…“jerk” as in Caper, he still wasn’t the same character that appears later in the series and what bad qualities he loses from Caper are negated from the over-the-top homosexual clichés that he displays as part of his act. Besides Pitt’s gay act, the transsexual-sex change angle and the misogynistic comments by numerous male characters could be called typical clichés of the mid-1970s but age really badly over the last 40 years. However the biggest hole in the book is the missing of Pitt’s best friend, Al Giordino, a mistake that Cussler never made again.
Iceberg shows improvement in narrative and characters to an extent, but some of the choices Cussler made negated them. Overall I can’t give this a lesser or better rating that the first Dirk Pitt book, but if there is anyone interested in getting into this series I don’t recommend starting with some of these early books. Read books later in the series and then come back to these early ones.