I stumbled upon The Pharaoh's Secret at my local library. This thriller novel stood on the “rapid read” shelf with a big, round sticker on the book's cover that says: “ 10 day loan, no reservations, no renewals, high demand titles, and overdue fine $1 per day”.
The set-up in the library attracted my attention. I picked up this book to have a closer look at it. Two things about The Pharaoh's Secret incited my interest: 1) The famous Clive Cussler wrote (co-authored) this book. I have yet to read his works so perhaps this is a good introduction to his novels, 2) This book looks like it is telling an Indiana-Jones-like thriller story, with lots of ancient mysteries surrounding archeological digs. In other words, this book looks like it's right up my alley.
I extracted my library card from the wallet. After a swipe at the checkout counter, I borrowed this book and bore it home. I finished reading The Pharaoh's Secret in 3 sittings, and today I offer to share my opinion about this book in a review.
In 1791, during Battle of The Nile, the French Navy's flag ship, the mighty Orient, exploded in a spectacular destruction. As Orient sank and drowned, it carried her secret down to the bottom of the Nile. A secret that can be traced back to 1300 B.C, to a time when the infamous rebel Pharaoh, Akheaten, reigned supreme in Egypt.
At the present day, a mysterious ship arrived at Lampedusa island. Upon its arrival, the ship released a lethal toxin, wiping out most resident on the island. Kurt and Joe from NUMA team responded to the survivors' distress call, only to find themselves entangled in a much larger conspiracy. This is a conspiracy powered by a thing that lie dormant in the City of the Dead, but awakened by a mad man to tip the balance of power in Africa and Europe. This time, NUMA team must take on a mission that will drive them racing against the clock to prevent the outburst of a global disaster...
My thoughts on this book:
The Pharaoh's Secret disappointed me, this book did not live up to the hypes. When I closed this book, I thought this was a mediocre thriller that tells a forgettable story because it was told too many times in the past.
None of the characters in this book grabbed me, and they didn't make impressions on my mind. The characterization felt flat and their portrayals lackluster. Both heroes and villains in this book are cardboard cutouts. I couldn't find any distinctive quality in these characters that could dent my impression. Granted, this genre doesn't thrive on characterizations but rather on action and suspense. However, some of the better works in this genre still feature some sort of 2D characters, characters who have at least something that made them memorable. In The Pharaoh's Secret, however, the characters are 1D, giving off a sense that they exist in the book solely to drive the actions forward.
The Pharoah's Secret is action packed. It is stuffed and overabundant with gun fights, explosions, fist fights, and vehicle chases. Clive Cussler deserves credits for imbuing a cinematic quality into the action scenes in this book. However, despite all the adrenaline pumping actions, The Pharaoh's Secret still bored me half way into its story. In my opinion, the major flaw of this book lies in its storytelling.
Allow me to explain. Some of the better novels in the “treasure-hunt thriller” genre such as: The Sigma Force series, Robert Langdon series, or Cotton Malone series, the stories in these books are gripping because they build stories of mystery and suspense based on archeological finds and ancient mysteries. The action scenes, in the books I mentioned above, exist to add flavors and excitement to the story. They tell interesting and memorable stories that are fun to read, and that's why they are page-turners.
In The Pharaoh's Secret, however, the storytelling is not done in the same way. In this book, action scenes are the major focus, and the mystery and suspense exist to flavor the action scenes. The result? For me, the experience of reading The Pharaoh's Secret was akin to playing a 1980s video game. Where you have some story texts to connect one action-packed mission to the next. It was all action and the story was bland and uninteresting. Admittedly, I browsed through the last 100 pages because by that time, I just wanted the book to finish and that is not a good sign.
In disappointment, I returned The Pharaoh's Secret back to my local library. My introduction to the works of Clive Cussler has not been a memorable one. I don't know, perhaps Mr. Cussler's earlier books were different to this book, and I am still hoping to pick up his earlier novels. But for me, The Pharaoh's Secret didn't scratch my itch for a good treasure-hunt thriller.