4-1/2 stars (out of 5)
After reading Cussler's disappointing Poiseidon's Arrow, co-written by his son Dirk Cussler last year - I gave it just 3 stars - I wasn't expecting this to be much better (read my review here). That book was the 22nd "starring" Dirk Pitt, who since his introduction in 1965 has "graduated to head up the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Pitt makes an occasional appearance in that capacity in Zero Hour, but this one (Book 9 of The Numa Files) follows friends Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala and the rest of the Numa team as they try to stop a mad scientist who's bent on destroying the world as they know it.
The focus, if you will, is on "zero point energy," which is a theoretical state of energy that well-known scientists like Nikola Tesla reportedly espoused but for which his designs mysteriously disappeared before they could be tested. If tapped, it could be used as an energy source for the betterment of the world; but misused, the consequences could be dire. Here, the Numa team learns that a discredited and paranoid scientist has mastered the technology and, together with his son, plans to unleash it by targeting a fault line that runs through the middle of Australia and splitting the continent right down the middle.
As the team searches to find and shut down the villain before that happens at "Zero Hour," the chase moves along nicely, making this book hard to put down. On occasion, the boundaries of what the human body is capable of are tested a bit as the testosterone levels shoot up (literally and figuratively), but it never quite reaches the point of super-human that always bugs the heck out of me when I run across it in other books of this genre. All in all, a great job!
Zero Hour by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown (Putnam Adult, May 2013); 400 pp.