White Death: A Kurt Austin Adventure (NUMA Files Series)

White Death: A Kurt Austin Adventure (NUMA Files Series)

by Clive Cussler, Paul Kemprecos

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Hailed as a hero for the new millennium, NUMA leader Kurt Austin must protect the seas’ delicate ecosystem from a fish-farming organization with big plans for their genetically-modified product in this #1 New York Times-bestselling adventure series.

A confrontation between a radical environmentalist group and a Danish cruiser leave many survivors trapped inside a sunken ship. But when the head of NUMA Special Assignments, Kurt Austin, and his colleague, Joe Zavala, are enlisted to run the rescue operation, they uncover a far more sinister agenda on the part of the supposed environmental group. Their agency, Sentinels of the Sea, is connected to a shadowy multinational corporation with plans for controlling the world’s oceans. And somebody within the company is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way.

When Austin narrowly escapes an explosion on his own boat, he becomes certain he’s the next target. This can only mean he’s onto something big. In fact, he’s in the midst of an environmental disaster that has already begun, and only he and NUMA® stand in the way….

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425195451
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/25/2004
Series: NUMA Files Series , #4
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 128,313
Product dimensions: 4.29(w) x 7.52(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Clive Cussler is the author or coauthor of over fifty previous books in five bestselling series, including Dirk Pitt®, NUMA® Files, Oregon® Files, Isaac Bell, and Sam and Remi Fargo. His nonfiction works include Built for AdventureThe Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt, and Built to Thrill:More Classic Automobiles from Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt, plus The Sea Huntersand The Sea Hunters II; these describe the true adventures of the real NUMA, which, led by Cussler, searches for lost ships of historic significance. With his crew of volunteers, Cussler has discovered more than sixty ships, including the long-lost Confederate ship Hunley. He lives in Colorado and Arizona. 

Paul Kemprecos has coauthored all five previous NUMA Files novels with Cussler and is a Shamus Award-winning author of six underwater detective thrillers.


Phoenix, Arizona

Date of Birth:

July 15, 1931

Place of Birth:

Aurora, Illinois


Pasadena City College; Ph.D., Maritime College, State University of New York, 1997

Read an Excerpt


By Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos

G.P. Putnam's Sons

Copyright © 2003 Sandecker, RLLLP
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0399150412

Chapter One

The Faroe Islands,
the present

THE LONE SHIP bearing down on the Faroe Islands looked like the loser in a paint-ball fight. The hull of the 170-foot Sea Sentinel was splashed from stem to stern with an eye-blinding psychedelic potpourri of tie-dye rainbow colors. A piping calliope and a crew of clowns would not have been out of place to complete the carnival atmosphere. The ship's raffish appearance was deceptive. As many had learned to their sorrow, the Sea Sentinel was as dangerous in its own way as any vessel in the pages of Jane's Fighting Ships.

The Sea Sentinel had arrived in Faroe waters after a 180-mile trip from the Shetland Islands off of Scotland. Greeting the vessel was a small flotilla of fishing boats and yachts hired by international press organizations. The Danish cruiser Leif Eriksson stood by, and a helicopter circled above in the overcast sky.

It was drizzling, typical summer weather for the Faroes, an archipelago of eighteen specks of rock located in the northeast Atlantic halfway between Denmark and Iceland. The 45,000 human inhabitants of the Faroes are largely descended from the Vikings, who settled there in the ninth century. Although the islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the locals speak a language derived from old Norse. The people are outnumbered by the millions of birds that nest in the towering cliffs that stand like ramparts against the sea.

A tall, ruggedly built man in his forties stood on the ship's foredeck surrounded by reporters and camera technicians. Marcus Ryan, the captain of the Sea Sentinel, was conservatively dressed in a black tailored officer's uniform decorated with gold braid on the collar and sleeves. With his movie star profile, tanned skin, the collar-length hair tousled by the breeze and the fringe of ginger-colored beard framing his square jaw, Ryan looked as if he had been cast for the movie role of a dashing sea captain. The image was one he went to great pains to cultivate.

"Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen," Ryan said in a well-modulated voice that carried over the rumble of engines and the swash of water against the hull. "Sorry we couldn't have provided smoother seas. Some of you look a bit green around the gills after our trip from the Shetlands."

The members of the press pool had been chosen by lot to cover the invasion story. After a night spent in cramped bunks as the ship navigated rolling seas, some members of the Fourth Estate were wishing they hadn't been so lucky.

"That's okay," croaked a female reporter from CNN. "Just make sure the story is worth all the damned Dramamine I swallowed."

Ryan flashed his Hollywood smile. "I can almost guarantee that you'll see action." He swept his arm theatrically in a wide arc. The cameras dutifully followed his pointing finger to the warship. The cruiser was moving in a wide circle, just fast enough to maintain headway. Fluttering from its main mast was the red-and-white flag of Denmark. "The last time we tried to stop the Faroese from slaughtering pilot whales, that Danish cruiser you see fired a shot across our bow. Small arms fire narrowly missed one of our crew, although the Danes deny they shot at us."

"Did you really slam them with a garbage gun?" asked the CNN reporter.

"We defended ourselves with the materials at hand," Ryan replied with mock seriousness. "Our cook had rigged up a catapult to launch biodegradable garbage bags off the deck. He's a medieval weapons buff, so he developed a gadget similar to a trebuchet that had a surprising range. When the cruiser tried to cut us off, we nailed it with a direct hit, much to our surprise. And theirs." He paused and with perfect comic timing said, "There's nothing like being slimed with potato peels, eggshells and coffee grounds to take the wind out of your sails."

Laughter rippled through the group.

The BBC reporter said, "Aren't you worried that antics of that sort add to the reputation given to the Sentinels of the Sea as one of the more radical environmental and animal rights groups? Your organization has freely admitted to scuttling whaling ships, blocking waterways, spray-painting baby seals, harassing sealers, cutting drift nets ..."

Ryan raised his hand in protest. "Those were pirate whale ships, international waters, and the other stuff you mentioned we can document as legal under international agreements. On the other hand, our ships have been rammed, our people gassed and shot at and illegal arrests made."

"What do you say to those people who call you a terrorist organization?" a reporter from The Economist said.

"I would ask them: What could be more terrifying than the cold-blooded slaughter of fifteen hundred to two thousand defenseless pilot whales each year? And I would remind them that no one has ever been hurt or killed by an SOS intervention." Ryan flashed his smile again. "C'mon, folks, you've met the people on this ship." He gestured toward an attractive young woman who had been standing apart from the others, listening to the discussion. "Tell me honestly, does this lady look scary?"

Therri Weld was in her mid-thirties, of medium height, with a compact, well-proportioned body. The faded jeans and workshirt she wore under her baggy windbreaker did little to disguise her athletic but distinctly feminine figure. An SOS baseball hat covered chestnut hair whose natural curl was made even more pronounced by the damp air, and her gentian eyes were alert and intelligent. She stepped forward and gave the press corps a bright smile.

"I've already met most of you," she said, in a voice that was low but clear. "So you know that when Marcus doesn't have me slaving away as a deckhand, I'm a legal advisor to SOS. As Marcus said, we use direct action as a last resort. We pulled back after our last encounter in these waters to pursue a boycott of Faroe fish."

"But you still haven't stopped the grinds," the BBC reporter said to Ryan.

"The Sentinels have never underestimated how tough it would be to end a tradition that goes back hundreds of years," Ryan answered. "The Faroese have the same stubbornness their Viking forefathers needed to survive. They're not about to give in to a bunch of whalehuggers like us. But while I admire the Faroese, I think the grindarap is cruel and barbaric. It's unworthy of the islanders as a people. I know a few of you have been to a grind before. Anyone care to sum it up?"

"Damned bloody business," the BBC reporter admitted. "But I don't like fox hunts, either."

"At least the fox has a sporting chance," Ryan said, his jaw hardening. "The grind is simply a massacre. When someone spots a pod of pilot whales, the siren goes off, and boats herd the whales in to shore. The locals-women and kids sometimes-are waiting on the beach. There's a lot of drinking and it's a big party, for everyone except the whales. The people stick gaffs into the whales' blowholes and drag the animals inshore, where they have their jugular veins cut and they bleed to death. The water turns red from the blood-letting. Sometimes you'll see people sawing the animals' heads off while the whales are still alive!"

A blond female reporter said, "How is a grind any different from slaughtering steers for beef?"

"You're asking the wrong person," Ryan said. "I'm a vegan." He waited for the laughter to die down. "Your point is well-taken, though. We may be protecting the Faroese from themselves. Pilot-whale meat is loaded with mercury and cadmium. It's hurting their children."

"But if they want to poison themselves and their kids," the reporter said, "isn't it intolerant of SOS to condemn their traditions?"

"Gladiatorial combat and public executions were traditions once. Civilization decided these savage spectacles have no place in the modern world. Inflicting unnecessary pain on defenseless animals is the same thing. They say it's tradition. We say it's murder. That's why we're back."

"Why not continue with the boycott?" the BBC man asked.

Therri addressed the question. "The boycott was too slow. Hundreds of pilot whales continue to be killed. So we've changed our strategy. The oil industry wants to sink wells in these waters. If we bring enough bad publicity to the hunt, the oil companies might hold back. That would put pressure on the islanders to end their grinds."

"And we've got other business here as well," Ryan added. "There's a multinational fish-processing company that we're going to picket to demonstrate our opposition to the harmful effects of fish-farming."

The Fox News reporter was incredulous. "Is there anyone you don't plan to antagonize?"

"Let me know who we've missed," Ryan said to laughter.

The BBC man said, "How far do you intend to push your protest?"

"As far as we can. This hunt is illegal under international law, in our opinion. You people are here as witnesses. Things could get dicey. If anyone wants to leave now, I can arrange a transfer." He scanned the faces surrounding him and smiled. "No one? Good. Well, then, brave souls, into the breach we go. We've been keeping track of several pods of pilot whales. The waters around here fairly teem with them. That young deckhand you see waving wildly may have something to tell us."

A crew member who had been keeping watch trotted over. "A couple of pods are passing by Stremoy," he said. "Our observer on shore says the siren's wailing and the boats are being launched."

Ryan turned back to the reporters. "They'll probably try to drive the whales ashore at the Kvivik killing field. We'll put ourselves between the boats and the whales. If we can't drive the pod away, we'll start cutting the boats off."

The CNN reporter pointed to the cruiser. "Isn't it going to irritate those chaps?"

"I'm counting on it," Ryan said, with a ferocious grin.

High in the bridge of the Leif Eriksson, a man in civilian clothes squinted at the Sea Sentinel through a powerful pair of binoculars. "My God," Karl Becker murmured to Eric Petersen, the ship's captain, "that ship looks as if it were painted by a madman."

"Ah, so you know Captain Ryan," Petersen replied, with a faint smile.

"Only by reputation. He seems to have what the Americans call a Teflon shield. For all his law-breaking, he has never been convicted on any charge. What do you know of Ryan, Captain?"

"First of all, he is not mad. He is possessed with a near-fanatical determination, but all his actions are measured. Even the gaudy color scheme of his ship is calculated. It lulls unsuspecting opponents into making mistakes-and shows up quite well on television."

"Maybe we could arrest them for visual pollution of the sea, Captain Petersen," said Becker.

"I suspect Ryan would find an expert to say the ship is nothing less than a floating work of art."

"Glad to see that you've maintained your sense of humor despite the humiliation this ship suffered from its last encounter with the Sentinels of the Sea."

"It only took a few minutes of hosing down the deck to get rid of the garbage they threw at us. My predecessor felt that it was necessary to respond to the garbage attack with gunfire."

Becker winced. "Captain Olafsen was still commanding a desk the last time I heard. The publicity was incredibly bad. 'Danish Warship Attacks Unarmed Boat.' Headlines that the crew was drunk. My God, what a disaster!"

"Having served as Olafsen's first officer, I have the greatest respect for his judgment. His problem was that he didn't have clear direction from the bureaucrats in Copenhagen."

"Bureaucrats like me?" Becker said.

The captain responded with a tight smile. "I follow orders. My superiors said that you were coming aboard as a navy-department observer. Here you are."

"I wouldn't want a bureaucrat aboard my ship if I were in your shoes. But I assure you, I have no authority to supersede your orders. I will, of course, report what I see and hear, but let me remind you that if this mission is a fiasco, both our heads will roll."

The captain hadn't known what to make of Becker when he first welcomed him aboard the Eriksson. The official was short and dark, and with his large, moist eyes and long nose, he looked like a despondent cormorant. Petersen, on the other hand, fit the common mold for many Danish men. He was tall, square-jawed and blond.

"I was reluctant to have you aboard," the captain said, "but the hot-heads who are involved in this situation could let things get out of control. I welcome the opportunity to consult with someone from the government."

Becker thanked the captain and said, "What do you think of this grindarap business?"

The captain shrugged. "I have many friends on the island. They would rather die than give up their old customs. They say it's what makes them who they are. I respect their feelings. And you?"

"I'm a Copenhagener. This whale thing seems like a big waste of time to me. But there's a great deal at stake here. The government respects the wishes of the islanders, but the boycott has hurt their fishing. We don't want the Faroes to lose their livelihood so that they become a ward of the state. Too damned expensive. To say nothing of the revenue losses to our country if the oil companies are persuaded to hold back their drilling because of this whale hunt."

"I'm well aware that this situation is something of a morality play. All the actors know their roles exactly. The islanders have planned this grind to defy SOS and to make sure Parliament is aware of their concerns. Ryan has been just as vocal in saying he won't allow anything to stand in his way."

"And you, Captain Petersen, do you know your role?"

"Of course. I just don't know how the drama ends."

Becket grunted in answer.

"Let me reassure you," the captain said, "the Faroe Police have been ordered to stay in the background. Under no circumstances am I to use guns. My orders are to protect the islanders from danger. I can use my judgment on how this is to be done. If the Sea Sentinel comes close enough to endanger the smaller boats, then I have the authority to nudge the SOS ship aside. Please excuse me, Mr. Becket. I see that the curtain is about to go up."

From several harbors, fishing boats were racing to a disturbed area of ocean. They were moving fast, their bows up on plane, bouncing over the low chop. The boats were converging on a spot where the shiny black backs of a pod of pilot whales broke the surface. Fountains of spray exploded from the whales' blowholes.

The Sea Sentinel was also moving in on the whales.


Excerpted from WHITE DEATH by Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos Copyright © 2003 by Sandecker, RLLLP
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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White Death 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When you've got yourself a good one, there's nothing quite like being engrossed in one of Cussler's adventure novels. When you find yourself reading one of his weaker works, there's not much quite like it either. While this book contains mutated fish, nefarious Islanders, a Kurt Austin Romance and a shadowy international Corporation, it was just not written well. I could not shake the feeling that this was just a cookie cutter novel that was more manufactured than written. With 25 pages remaining to the conclusion of the novel, I threw it out, out of frustration. While some of his work (see Lost City for example) can have you up late enjoying his adventures, some are dead in the water. I'd pass on White Death, a book which will amount to a slow death for any reader.
Phroggy More than 1 year ago
Another great read. From start to finish the action and adventure never ceased. I am convinced that any book written with Paul Kemprecos and Clive Cussler is an instant hit, they always seem to keep my captivated. The ending did not let me down, I was captivated until the very last page. If your into Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala then this book is for you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg si Cool
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a long-time Clive Cussler reader and have enjoyed all of his Dirk Pitt adventures. This summer, I was made aware of his second NUMA series with Kirt Austin, the Numa Files series as it were. Well, I read Serpent and then White Death. Both are marvelous reads, with the typical short chapters and historical prologs. Austin, the hero, is cut from the same cloth as Pitt and his sidekick Zuvela is much akin to Giordano (Pitt's sidekick). White Death revolves around the ethics of genetic engineering so those who like maritime, fish, and the Canadian north sprinkeled with liberal doses of Native Canadian Indians will enjoy this latest novel. For those of you who are Cussler Starved...I have just started the Jack Du Brul series of novels (Vulcan's forge) and only wish they were available in large hardbound format. So far Vuclan is a good read. Enjoy Amigos!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished White Death. I have read everyone of Cussler's novels. Some I liked more than others such as Saraha. That was a grabber. I also like all his characters, Dirk, Joe, Kurt. I thought this was a very good read. I would like to see him write more history as he has in the prior books. I hope he writes a mystery about the southern submarine The Hunley. I recommend all of his books. They are a good read or 'chewing gum for the mind'. Keep on keeping on Mr. Cussler.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I fear that some reader new to Cussler will read this book and conclude that there's nothing to be gained by reading any other work by this master of adventure. Perhaps Cussler really doesn't write the 'Kurt Austin' books, but he puts his name on the cover and cashes his check so... A trademark of Cussler's best works is the imaginative blend of history with cutting edge events. While the biotech angle in the story is intriguing, the history is sloppy. Placing a King James bible 100 years before its creation (for a throwaway line no less) is suggestive of an author who just doesn't care. The link between the Basques and the Faroe Islands is almost equally suspect. Hopefully Cussler got whatever was bothering him out of his system with this subpar effort.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like Austin, but I miss Dirk. Hope he is in the next book, and I hope that it is soon
Guest More than 1 year ago
As usual from beginning to end the Kirk/Joe and the rest of the Special projects team do it again. However, being a Avid Dirk Pitt Fan from the beginning I totally agree with other readers and reviewers that a Masterpiece would be in teaming up Dirk and Kirk! They could come to eithers rescue or pair up from the start and you would have a Bestseller before it went on sale
Guest More than 1 year ago
I will read this but will miss Dirk. Where is he? One star because he's not the focus of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where is Dirk Pitt? I enjoy all of your novels, but I would like see Dirk and Al in some more adventures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clive Cussler is unequaled, surely unexcelled in the field of eco-thrillers. His real life experiences and gift with words have given new meaning to the action/adventure genre. The fourth in his mesmerizing series The NUMA Files is sure evidence that Cussler is a master at his game. 'Master' might also apply to voice actors James Naughton and Scott Brick who render electrifying readings of 'White Death.' Naughton has received various honors during his theatrical career, among them are Tony Awards for his performances in Chicago and City of Angels. With film television, radio and stage appearances to his credit Brick is an accomplished veteran of audio book readings. As readers and listeners of earlier works in this series know hero Kurt Austin heads NUMA's Special Assignments Team. Now, along with his working buddy Joe Zavala, the two have saved a shipload of men. These men were trapped after a head-on between a Danish cruiser and a radical environmental group. But, true to Cussler's suspenseful form, that's not the end - just the startling beginning as Austin and Zavala discover that a sinister multinational corporation wants control of the seas, and will kill anyone who stands in the way of its total rule. Austin's ship explodes but he survives - just barely. What must he do to make sure that he doesn't become a target again? This is vintage Cussler which means action at its best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy the Austin and Zavala but please don't put the number one guy away. DIRK PITT Can we have a few more stories. Maybe they can work together? Carry on
Guest More than 1 year ago
Book goes along with numa adventure and I suppose all of his charactors will live big as life, but us die hard dirk pitt people want him back and soon!!!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1515, a Basque caravel sinks two Spanish war galleys. In 1935 a German zeppelin soars northward on a top-secret flight to reach the North Pole, but in the Arctic the Germans sees a ship stranded on the ice. He goes to help. In the present off the Faroe Islands, whale rescuers try to stop Islanders from killing whales, but lose control of the ship to an overhead helicopter that sends the vessel crashing into and sinking a Danish cruiser with several crew men still aboard.

In the Berents Sea, the search-and-survey NUMA ship William Beebe led by Kurt Austin tests a new device able to attach to a sunken ship's hull and cut a hole in the frame so salvagers can easily enter. With this new device, Kurt and crew might save the lives of the trapped Danes whose air is running out, but they need rapid transport to go twelve hundred miles. Even with Russian help, Kurt will soon realize that the helicopter crowd has a different message in mind.

The forth 'novel from the NUMA files' is an exciting seafaring adventure that never slows down until the final dinner date is arranged. Kurt retains his hero status as he and his crew desperately work to save lives reminiscent of the Russian submarine tragedy. Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos provide fans with an adrenaline-pumping thriller starring a likable champion though the villains' message seems gobbled in comparison.

Harriet Klausner

df6b_mattW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not quite what I hoped for but still a good book.
owleye01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Intriguing read, but it took me forever to get through because when I put it down I wasn't compelled to pick it up right away. It was a fun action/adventure book with some crazy twists, but ultimately not one of my favorite Clive Cussler novels.
MSWallack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Between my comments for Fire Ice and Lost City there isn't much more to say about White Death. It is a Kurt Austin novel. Neither better nor worse than any others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flow was even
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is definitely sub-standard to normal NUMA series novels. Thumbs down on this one.