Monday, 2 March 2020


My obit of the techno-thriller adventure writer Clive Cussler was published by the Guardian online
a few days ago; you can link to it here. It should be in the paper paper soon. It was an interesting one to write, because I had dipped into Cussler once or twice, but pulled my toe out of the water quickly. But I found it edifying to try to trace his influences: I had recognised Doc Savage right away (and have noticed some others noting that) but that led my critical eyes to Travis McGee and John D MacDonald, whom I was surprised no one else noted. McGee is a tall, bronzed hero who specialises in marine recovery, although most McGee novels don't actually involve that sort of work. But MacDonald's major best-sellers almost always did involve some bit of technology, or business, which he would explain to the reader in great detail, because the plot was often intertwined with the workings of the business. I thought this was something Cussler used to great advantage.

I would have liked to spend more time on his classic car collection, and a little on his career as an
ad man too, because his reputation as a writer was made, or at least maintained, in part by clever marketing of himself and his work as a brand, much like Warren Adler, whose obit I did for the Guardian last May (you can link to that here). I probably could have mentioned that. But I'll have to wait until my next trip to Colorado to see the cars.

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