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Literature / Devil's Gate

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An adventure novel by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown, part of the NUMA Files, a spin-off series to the Dirk Pitt Adventures. Adventurer oceanologist Kurt Austin and his sidekick Joe Zavala face a band of Ruthless Modern Pirates led by a mercenary Andras aka "The Knife" who work for an african dictator Djemma Garand. Wishing to become a new Hannibal, he has built a Death Ray tower, kidnapping some scientists to complete the project. Now he threatens to destroy world nations' capitals unless they pay him a ton of money. Since his weapon burns any ships, planes and missiles on sight, it's up to the Big Damn Heroes to save the day.


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Devil's Gate provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Katarina Luskaya is a former Olympic athlet, and shows some action early in the novel. This doesn't save her from being captured later.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Superconductors are described like this. "Their properties make them perfect for any electronic application. From operating a computer to powering a magnetically levitated train to electrical motors for cars that get the equivalent of five hundred miles per gallon". And to building a Death Ray, of course.
  • Banana Republic: Sierra Leone, Big Bad's domain, is described briefly like this.
  • Big Bad: Sierra Leone dictator Djemma Garand.
  • Brick Joke: Mid-story, during a chase, Kurt and Joe release a leopard from an exotic pet shop. In the end they get a remark from Dirk Pitt: "I don’t even want to know why we’re paying for the capture of a juvenile spotted leopard".
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  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Curiously, this American stereotype is attributed to a Russian (Katarina). "“He’s in no danger,” Kurt said confidently. “Neither are we, unless the French team wants to fight about the core sample they’ve taken.” “Not the French way,” she said."
  • Continuity Nod: Some of the previous books' characters show up, some are just mentioned once or twice, like St. Julien Perlmutter.
  • Damsel in Distress: Kristi Nordegrun in the beginning, later Katarina Luskaya. Both saved by Kurt.
  • Death Ray: Djemma's Doomsday Device: a particle accelerator based on stolen Large Hadron Collider technology. Underwater!
  • Death Trap: Drowning Pit kind. Knife handcuffs Kurt and Joe to a submarine and drowns it... Leaving them a key.
  • Defector from Commie Land: Tarasov. In the prologue American pilot Hudson Wallace is transporting him into USA with some mysterious boxes he stole from the Soviets.
  • Derelict Graveyard: The eponymous Devil's Gate, an underwater magnetic anomaly.
  • Double Entendre: When Gamay said "Feels weird to be lying down, I’m used to doing it standing up.", she was talking about operating her research drone.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: during the The Big Race Kurt and Joe see one of the competing submarines suffer an accident and stop to help them, losing the race.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: After Djemma Garand's plan is foiled, and rockets approach his base, he walks outside to meet them personally. His Famous Last Words are: "And so I shall fall, like Hannibal before me".
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Audi and Focus fall from a cliff and immediately explode.
  • Evil Plan: Get Rich Quick Scheme. Djemma nationalizes all the foreign assets in Sierra Leone. He demands a lot of "grants" from the foreign countries, threatning to use his Death Ray. He also wans a Revenge to First World countries for his country's colonial past. Patriotic Fervor is a motive, too.
  • Fed to the Beast: Kurt and Joe almost feed an uncooperative informer to a constrictor.
  • Four-Star Badass: Dirk Pitt has become this, being promoted to NUMA director of operations.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "the figure was known by the incredibly awkward name Robotic Advanced Person-shaped Underwater Zero-connection Explorer. Because the acronym shortened to RAPUNZE, the test team had taken to calling the little figure Rapunzel."
  • Girl of the Week: Katarina becomes this to Kurt almost as soon as they meet.
  • Gratuitous Russian: Katarina is not a Russian name.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Kristi Nordegrun, finding dead crew member on the ship after Andras's attack.
  • Hot Scientist: Katarina Luskaya and Gamay Trout are both described as very sexy.
  • I Owe You My Life: Haruto Takagawa to Dirk. At first he's reluctant to share information about the cargo on the ship that was attacked by Andras's pirates, but speaks after Dirk reminds him of this.
  • Kill It with Ice: Andras dies bathed in liquid nitrogen, living long enough to see himself shatter.
  • Man in the Iron Mask: Djemma Garand's brother is mentioned as this, and takes his place as Sierra Leone's leader at the end.
  • Man on Fire: Captain Heinrich Nordegrun and most of his crew die this way, killed by the Death Ray.
  • Meaningful Echo: Nonverbal. First time Andras and Kurt meet, Andras gets what he wants and leaves behind a knife as a symbol of his triumph. Later Kurt escapes from Andras on an ultralight plane, cutting other planes' wings with the same knife and leaving it behind as a "take that". Next time they meet, Andras sends Kurt into a Death Trap with the same knive, this time with a key to Kurt's handcuffs hanging from it. During their last fight Kurt throws the knife to Andras to distract him and shoot a liquid nitrogen pipe next to him.
  • Monumental Damage: Djemma plans to destroy Capitol with his Death Ray.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Unless they're from NUMA.
  • Never Found the Body: Kurt tries to invoke this running from Andras, dropping his empty car from a cliff. Andras, being the careful sort, checks.
  • Psycho for Hire: Andras "The Knife", a mercenary leading a bunch of Ruthless Modern Pirates. He got his nickname is "because he loved to play with sharpened blades".
  • Poirot Speak: Obligatory Russian "Da". Joe frequently drops lines in Spanish.
  • Red Herring: The book starts in 1951, with a Defector from Commie Land on his way to USA with some mysterious cargo that ends up on the bottom of the sea. The crashed plane and this cargo do appear later in the book, but remain only marginally related to the plot.
  • Red Herring Twist: Devil's Gate anomaly turns out to be a fake created by the Big Bad. His true target is the scientists who gather to research it. In-universe hoax is paired with the prologue that fools the reader too: crush of Hudson Wallace's plane is described like it was caused by a strong magnetic anomaly, but is later explained as a completely unrelated matter.
  • Running Gag: During the underwater adventures, Joe several times whines about how he wants to go somewhere dry and hot. In the epilogue he suggests a vacation in Gobi desert.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Lead by Andras, serving Big Bad.
  • Sensual Slavs: Katarina Luskaya uses her beauty to manipulate both Kurt and Andras.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Cochrane tries to do that in the end, and immediately outlives his usefulness.
  • Teaser-Only Character:
    • Subverted with Hudson Wallace: he appears in the prologue in 1951, and crashes his plane. Later we learn that he survived, and see him again as an old man in the epilogue.
    • Played straight with Captain Heinrich Nordegrun who is burned alive by the Death Ray in chapter 2.
  • The Big Race: Underwater, for the title of the world’s fastest two-man submarine.
  • The Dragon: Andras, to Djemma Garand.
  • The Generalissimo: Djemma Garand, complete with Cool Shades and Chest of Medals.
  • The Starscream: Andras dreams of being a king. Djemma, being aware of this, keeps him on a tight leash. "Djemma smiled. By using Andras’s services, he was making the man incredibly rich, but if there was a way to get even more wealth and power Djemma expected Andras would follow it."
  • The War Room: Pentagon Situation Room.
  • Turncoat: Alexander Cochrane, selling himself and technology stolen from LHC, to Djemma.
  • Underwater Base: Djemma's Doomsday Device. Disguised as a bunch of offshore oil rigs.
  • Unknown Rival: Andras sees Kurt as a Worthy Opponent and his personal enemy. For Kurt, Andras is just another thug.
  • Worthy Opponent: Andras sees Kurt as one. Kurt, on the other hand, just despises him.
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