This review is specific to the first seven books of the Fargo series by Clive Cussler in audiobook format narrated by Scott Brick. All are published by Penguin Audio and are in the area of eleven to twelve hours of listening. Some of The Fargo Adventures have been co-authored with Grant Blackwood, Thomas Perry, Russell Blake or Robin Burcell. Early writings by Clive Cussler did not involve co-authors, however Cussler is in his mid-80s at this writing. All of these books cover a specific era of ancient history and are rich with detail. There is a great deal of historical research, ergo co-authors. The Fargo Adventures series is in the tradition of all Cussler works, i.e., mysteries wrapped around history, a formula that defines his basic plot structure. The difference, in my opinion, is the married couple lead characters in this series, Sam and Remi Fargo, as opposed to the type A macho men, Dirk Pitt and Isaac Bell.
The entire series revolves around ancient treasure, excavation, archeological digs, etc. Think DaVinci Code on steroids with a brilliant engineer and his historian wife as the lead characters, Sam and Remi. Or possibly Nick and Nora or Jonathan and Jennifer Hart with satellite cell phones and iPads. The leads chase clues galore across the world involving everything from deep sea diving to mountain climbing to hot air balloon escapes to spelunking. Exotic cities, exclusive hotels, and sumptuous dining experiences of the locales are explicitly described in each story. Remi and Sam are experts at and can do anything and are very philanthropic. All of their finds are turned over to the local governments or historical societies. The two are not ‘in it for the money’, but rather the adventure. At their California home/office is Selma and her staff. Selma is a researcher who finds answers to the most obscure elements of ancient history, makes travel and equipment arrangements for Sam and Remi, and knows what they need before they need it. The pair is independently wealthy enough to have enviable lives traveling the world and getting themselves in and out of trouble, turning the tables on bad guys along the way. Although Sam and Remi are married and deeply in love, the entire series is squeaky clean, i.e., chaste kisses on cheeks. No gratuitous sex, no language issues as is true of all Cussler writing. Don’t hesitate to present as gifts to anyone.
Regarding Scott Brick’s audiobook performances … well … it’s Scott Brick, ergo not much to say. He does a particularly great job with obscure accents and pronunciations. Male and female voices unique, no trouble discerning who-says-what-to-who, nice timing and tempo, solid productions.
Spartan Gold, 2009 = Napoleonic history that begins with Sam and Remi finding a Nazi-era German mini-sub while scuba diving. Ancient bottles of wine found in the sub have them hunting for Napoleon’s lost cellar and more treasure.
Lost Empire, 2010 = Aztec history. Very convoluted, complex story. Clues galore poof away during the story and are wrapped up in neat package in the Epilog. Not my favorite, but finding a mystery (no spoiler) in the Krakatoa volcanic ash is a very cool element of the plot.
The Kingdom, 2011 = Nepal history. Sam and Remi are sucked into a mystery taking them from an egomaniacal Texas baron to Shangri-La!
The Tombs, 2012 = A narcissistic maniac believes he is a descendent of Attila the Hun. Other greedy creeps simply want the riches found in a cadre of tombs, which results in a search for Attila’s final resting place – another tomb.
The Mayan Secrets, 2013, opens in the 16th century with the sheltering of a book containing Mayan history. Sam and Remi battle to preserve a book found in an ancient clay pot. The resulting mayhem begins a wild adventure.
In The Eye of Heaven, 2014, Cussler should have been tougher in the supervision of co-authoring, as the character of Remi has changed to be more of a liability for Sam – she acts like a spoiled child, often wanting to go home. The book might be better if he sent her. The two argue about strategy rather than scheme together as in previous novels – way too much ’sneering’. That, and after all they’ve been through, Remi is jealous? Really? That said, the story: How do ancient artifacts from the interior of Mexico wind up in the hull of a Viking ship found west of Greenland buried in glacial ice? Thus is the mystery of The Eye of Heaven.
The Solomon Curse, 2015. Beneath the waters off the coast of Guatemala lay the structures of a village or town. A wealthy tycoon in Australia is up to no good. There are ancient tales of gold and jewels and yep: Giants! Sam and Remi spelunk their way through adventures and march through jungles to find treasure, dead bodies, and ancient dead bodies. Not quite as ‘thrilling’ as some of the books, but an enjoyable read.
Since the books stand alone, jump in anywhere. Recommended for adventure lovers interested in ‘clean’ reads. Not great literature, just fun reading.