Publishers Weekly
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The rousing 13th Isaac Bell adventure (after 2021’s The Saboteurs), Du Brul’s first solo effort, combines the nostalgic flavor of a 1900s dime novel with a modern thriller sensibility. In 1914, on the eve on WWI, the Van Dorn Detective Agency is supervising the transfer of thousands of rifles to ships bound for England from New York. Bell, the agency’s chief investigator, and his best friend, Van Dorn detective Archie Abbott, discover a radio transmitter planted by a saboteur in a cache of weapons that will broadcast to German U-boats the exact location of the merchant ships carrying war matériel. Bell foils the plan and catches the attention of Joe Marchetti, a naval ensign who suspects that a German spy ring operates out of New York City’s docks. Between action sequences, Du Brul peppers the story with tidbits of real history and persons, conveying a palpable sense of wonder for the new inventions of the day. The tension rises as Bell and Marchetti board the doomed ocean liner RMS Lusitania to deliver a secret weapon to the English. Fans of the late Clive Cussler (1931–2020) will be gratified to know that Bell and his cohorts are in good hands. Agent: Peter Lampack, Peter Lampack Agency. (Nov.)

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The 13th in Cussler’s Isaac Bell Adventures series—now written by Du Brul—harkens back to the tumultuous days of the early 20th century. In April 1914, lowlife Foster “Foss” Gly escapes from a prison on French Guiana. He plans to help the Germans, who are on the brink of war in Europe. Once fighting begins in August, President Woodrow Wilson publicly tries to maintain American neutrality. But America supplies munitions and other war materiel to the British in ships that German U-boats frequently torpedo. The Brits hire Isaac Bell, a crack investigator employed by the Van Dorn Detective Agency, to find out why the “sea wolves” have so much success in locating high-value targets. It cannot be due to chance alone. The reason is that German spies in New York are using the nascent technology of radio, with lighthouses and balloons often helping make critical connections. Bell is an exceptionally talented and brave fellow who can recall in detail every face he has ever encountered, and he loves a good challenge. In perhaps the book’s best line, “anticipation fizzled in his veins like champagne bubbles.” But he doesn’t anticipate his old nemesis Gly, and their renewed confrontation is just one part of an action-packed yarn. Bell's most dangerous task is to find a German-made vacuum tube critical in transmitting radio signals. Ultimately, he boards the RMS Lusitania, which carries “a great many ammunition crates” for the British. The stakes could not be higher. “If you don't get the vacuum tube,” Bell hears, “the Germans are going on a hunting spree across the length and breadth of the Atlantic, and those men, your brothers, are going to die.” Sadly, the ship is also laden with hundreds of innocent passengers, including women and children. The ill-fated ship sinks to the bottom of the Irish Sea courtesy of a German torpedo, a disaster the author describes in frightening, nail-biting detail. How far will our hero and his compatriot go to reach their prize? Readers will enjoy Isaac Bell as much as he enjoys his work. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.