Originally published in The Historical Novels Review
Isaac Bell is a Van Dorn detective who is trying to build a case against John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company’s stranglehold on the oil industry. While interviewing a potential witness, Bell’s case takes a dramatic turn when a witness is assassinated in front of him—shot from an amazingly long range with deadly accuracy. As more people who oppose Standard Oil begin to die, Bell begins to realize the true scope of the case and he winds up protecting Rockefeller himself from the assassin. But Rockefeller won’t stand idly by and he and Bell begin a journey that will take them from New York to the war ravaged Baku oil fields in Russia and back to New York for the final confrontation with the determined, plotting, and elusive assassin.
If you are a fan of Cussler’s Isaac Bell novels may find yourself briefly confused with Bell’s romances—but then you will realize that this story is set before he marries. Cussler and Scott weave a high paced, taut historical thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end. This is an amazing historical action-thriller that, though it reinvents some history (some of Rockefeller’s history in Baku), stays largely true to historical facts. Fans of Cussler will not be disappointed and those who appreciate a unique rendering of history will enjoy the spin that Cussler and Scott put on early 20th Century America.