…the undisciplined rush by the choking, coughing mob forced Egan against the railing. Suddenly, a heavy man with red hair and a moustache that stretched across his cheeks to his sideburns emerged from the human surge and the distant past and tried to snatch Egan’s leather case from his hands. Initially stunned, the engineer managed to hold on to the case in a death grip and refused to release it until it was dead.

In horror, Kelly watched the struggle between the two men. An officer with an immaculate …nah, “immaculate” just isn’t enough: and unwrinkled uniform stood watching with what seemed total indifference. He was a black man with a face of hardened obsidian, his features chiselled and sharp. That’s right: “Obsidian”, “chiselled” – Na-il-dit.

“Do something!” Kelly screamed at him. “Don’t stand there! Help my father!”

But the black officer simply ignored her, stepped forward and, to Kelly’s astonishment, began to help the red-haired man in his struggle for the leather case.

Seconds later Egan plunges over the rail, the case hanging limply in his hand, and Kelly sees him smash into the water below. The black officer tries to strangle her, the red-head tries to grab her, but she too escapes over the edge. She swims to her father’s side, but his back is broken and his last wish is that she take his case and live on. She tries to keep both dead parent and murdered luggage afloat, but then a flying teenager knees her in the back of the head and she loses consciousness. I’m not joking.

In that instant, a glimmer of light brown hair caught Pitt®‘s eye, spread on the blue-green water like lace filaments on a satin sheet. The face could not be seen, but a hand made a slight gesture, as if trying to paddle through the water, or was it simply movement caused by the waves? Pitt® ran twenty feet down the deck for a closer look, hoping against hope that the woman – the hair had to be that of a woman he told himself, feeling oddly nervous at the thought of the alternative, but also strangely excited by the possibility of new experience – had not drowned. The head rose slightly above the water, far enough for him to see two large beautiful blue eyes that appeared languid and dazed. Please, he thought, troubled by these confusing new emotions, let it be a woman…

Oh fuck no, he’s going to do it. This is it – Dirk Pitt® is about to die.

Without another second’s hesitation, Pitt® climbed up on top of the railing, balanced for a moment and then dove into the water. He did not immediately rise to the surface but stroked mightily Clive? underwater oh, like an Olympic swimmer after leaping from a platform. As his hands and head broke clear he barely spotted the head sinking below the surface. Twenty feet and he was there, pulling her head from under the water by her hair. Despite her drowned-rat appearance yikes, he could see that she was a very attractive young woman. Ah, sexual predation in a crisis situation: he’s a man in her father’s mould, and you know what that’s going to mean.

Kelly refuses to release the body of her father’s briefcase and Pitt® is forced to tow both of them back to the Deep Encounter. When he learns it contains her father’s life’s work he looks at the case “with new respect”, then she descends into the ship.

Whoa. He made it! Man, that whole sequence was so tense I started sweating like a cornered virgin. Anyway, that’s Rescue One, and not a bad effort, I’d say. Not enough to be expecting her to hump his leg on the spot, but not bad.  One thing I can tell you, though: Dirk Pitt® isn’t the type to pull up short, that’s for sure – or for shore! Hmm. Sorry. I’ll not do that again.

So, how is our gracefully ageing aquatic superman going to properly loosen those silky thighs? With the help of his gorgeous red-headed assistant. I shall provide appropriate stage directions.

“What do you want?” she whispered fearfully.

“Your father’s case,” he answered in a deep, quiet voice. “You won’t be hurt if you hand it over. Otherwise, I will have to kill you.”

Villain to lower cape and twirl moustache menacingly.

She felt panic stab her, and started to back away from him. He moved towards her and she could see the white teeth beneath the red moustache as his lips widened in a malevolent grin. His eyes had the smug gleam of an animal who had his quarry trapped and helpless. Is smugness really an animalistic trait? Her panic turned to terror, her heart began to pound, her breath to come in gasps. Her legs felt weak and they tottered beneath her. Her long hair streaked across her eyes and face, and the tears involuntarily began to flow. Oh, man up, for fuck’s sake. Jesus. Have you no self-respect, woman?  If anyone deserved what she got, it was… well, “a woman”.

Crowd to boo. Villain to SHAKE FIST at them.

“Yes,” he said, in a voice that was hard and indifferent. “Scream all you wish. No one can hear you above the storm outside. I like it when a woman screams. I find it exhilarating. A woo-hoo, and a whaa-haa-haa-haaah, while I’m at it.

Crowd to boo. Villain to BARE TEETH at them.

He lifted her off the floor as if she weighed no more than a mannequin stuffed with foam. Then he pinned her against a bulkhead and his hands began to move over her body, crudely, roughly, bruising her skin. Numb with terror, Kelly went limp and cried the age-old woman’s cry. Oh, this should be good.

“Please, you’re hurting me.” Yep. There it is, the battle cry of the bra set.

Crowd to chorus "He's behind you!"

Then a voice behind him said, “Your technique for romancing women leaves a lot to be desired.”

Crowd to cheer.
And me to scream, "Fuck no! Dirk Pitt® is about to die! Again!"

Quickly, the killer whipped into a martial-arts position, his hands poised in the air, and launched his foot at the intruder. Don’t ask me. Maybe it’s a wooden one.

Unknown to the killer and Kelly, Pitt® had heard the screams and silently opened the door, then stood there for a few brief seconds, appraising the situation and devising contingency plans contingency plans? She’s being rape-murdered, get your act together!

He immediately sensed this was a dangerous man who was no stranger to killing so Sherlock here removed his deerstalker and tossed aside his fiddle before adopting the Queensbury stance. Men such as this had to have a concrete reason for coldly murdering a defenceless woman. Is there any other kind? He braced himself for the attack he knew would come. Clive, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he “launch” his foot a paragraph ago? Where’s the killer standing, on the Dingo’s Kidneys? Oh, wait: I think I see it. There… there. Look:

In a violent corkscrew motion which Pitt* had learned during a youth spent on the interpretive dance circuit , he twisted out of the doorway into the passageway as the killer’s leg and foot parted the clouds and sliced through the air trailing smoke and flame. The intended blow missed Pitt®‘s head by an inch and impacted on the frame of the door. The ankle bone broke cleanly with an audible crack. Ah well. He’s not going to be clipping THAT back on. Fight over then, eh?

Any other man would have writhed in agony. Not this one, this hunk thick with muscle and trained to ignore pain. The killer glanced up and down the passageway to make sure Pitt® was alone and had no help, and then he came forward, arms and hands moving rhythmically in martial-arts motions. Then he leaped towards his prey, hands chopping the air like axes.

It didn’t take a wizard’s grey matter what an eloquent turn of phrase for Pitt® to realise that he was no match for a highly trained killer with a body like a demolition ball on a crane. Whoa, dude. Is he checking out that guy’s package?

He’s not dead yet! Let us take a break here, as Cussler does, to underline the fact that split-second contingency planner Dirk Pitt® “had never taken a martial-arts course in his life”, but “had boxed during his years at the Air Force Academy” (presumably thirty years previously) when “his wins usually equalled his losses”. What he did know was the bar-room brawl “tactics of free-for-all fighting”, namely stay well back and throw whatever you can lay your hands on. What a hero, you might say: a bottle thrower. Well, rest assured that Dirk Pitt® never throws anything into the fray – except himself.

Crowd to cheer.

Now it was his turn to attack. He sprinted forward and leaped on the back of the killer I’ve never felt so proud. It was a brutal football tackle, using the combined impetus of both their bodies to bring the runner the one-legged “runner” down from behind indeed, falling with all his weight on the other’s body while ramming his face and head into the deck. My Hero.

Pitt® heard his attacker’s that’s a bit rich head hit the thinly carpeted steel deck with a sickening thump and a crack and felt the body go limp. Quick, kick ‘im while ‘e’s down! If not a fracture, the skull must have suffered a concussion, he thought. Not the brain, but the skull? Is that how concussions work?

Crowd to turn down their thumbs and bay for blood.

It was then he noticed the killer’s head was twisted in an unnatural position and his eyes were open and unseeing … All Pitt® knew for certain was that he happened to walk onto the scene of an attempted murder of a woman he had rescued from drowning that’s right, another vital recap of an event which took place on the previously turned page. Cussler has spent so much time in the company of fish he must be over used to a thirty second memory span. Now he was sitting there on his victim’s back staring at a total stranger he had accidentally murdered. He looked into the man’s unseeing eyes wow, that neck really was “unnaturally twisted” and murmured to himself, “I’m as rotten as you are.”

Yes. Yes, you are. You’re such a horrible example of humanity that you should bloody well keel-haul yourself to death right now. Please. Or, to put it another way: HOORAY, Rescue Two! Bet that little chickadee will be all over him like anemone on coral now! That’s right, all you got to do to get a girl into Pitt®‘s bed is save her life twice – and if he can only find her again, I bet that’s exactly what he’ll do…