Vulcan’s Forge was the first book in the Philip Mercer series by Jack Du Brul. It was first published in 1998. I have read the Oregon Files series of novels by Jack Du Brul and Clive Cussler and had been eager to find out what Du Brul’s initial solo effort was like. Not only am I eager to read the second book in the series, but I’m actually very excited that there are 5 more books in this series after that.
Vulcan’s Forge introduces the lead character, Philip Mercer, a creative and high energy Geologist with a knack for getting into trouble. The story actually starts in 1954 when a then state of the art transport ship is scuttled on its maiden voyage. The plan behind the destruction of the ship turns out to be a Soviet plot that will be decades in the making.
Jump forward to present day and Phillip Mercer receives a telegram from an old friend that once saved his life. The telegram explains that the recent sinking of a Navy vessel 200 miles off the coast of Hawaii was no accident and that the only survivor of that tragedy is in danger. The survivor of that ship happens to be none other than his old friends daughter. But the mystery thickens for Mercer given that his old friend actually died several years ago.
On top of that, political problems in Hawaii increase the tension as the United States approaches a possible civil war. As North Korea and ex-KGB operatives manipulate the politics of the United States, a new chemical compound is discover to be the result of early underwater detonation of an atomic bomb. This compound could lead to breakthroughs in modern superconductor technology and is exactly the type of technological breakthrough that any nation would kill to acquire.
All of this boils down to a compelling and riveting story that makes the book very difficult to put down. The protagonist, Phillip Mercer, proves to be just the kind of character that readers relate to and want to read more about. Vulcan’s Forge is the first book in what I anticipate to be a very exciting series.