"The Striker: an Isaac Bell Adventure" (Putnam), by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott

The sixth adventure featuring early 20th-century detective Isaac Bell might be the best yet in the series by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott.

"The Striker" focuses on Bell's first big case at the Van Dorn Detective Agency. It's 1902, and one of the big issues at the time involves corporations trying to squash labor unions.

Rumors of unionist saboteurs in the coal mines send Bell on a clandestine mission to keep the peace while maintaining the coal output.

He soon discovers a foe that seems to know his every move — and every trick he's learned from his apprenticeship at the detective agency. What Bell doesn't realize is the enemy was also trained by Van Dorn but went rogue. How do you outwit someone who can anticipate your every action? And who is financing him?

The situation gets worse when one of the workers is framed for trying to blow up a mine. Bell has to balance staying undercover with helping an innocent man and staging a jailbreak.

The history of the unions in early 20th-century America along with the hazardous working conditions of the coal mines would be fascinating reading. Add a James Bond style flair with sabotage and villainy and the end result is a great action thriller.

 

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