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Clive Cussler’s book covers are distinctive and striking, with bright colors and bold text and exploding submarines. The designs scream adventure, and so do the titles: “The Mediterranean Caper,” “Atlantis Found,” “Valhalla Rising,” “Pacific Vortex!”
Cussler, whose books sold millions of copies and made frequent appearances on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books List, died Monday at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. His death was confirmed by Alexis Welby, director of publicity with his publisher, Penguin Random House. No cause of death was given.
Cussler was 88.
Cussler’s most popular and enduring creation was recurring character Dirk Pitt, the ultimate man’s man and globetrotting adventurer with the US National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA).
Pitt shared much in common with his creator. Born in 1931, Cussler grew up in Alhambra, Calif., and enlisted in the Air Force. After his service, Cussler worked as a copywriter and creative director at advertising agencies, and began writing his own stories.
His first novel, the Edgar Award-nominated “The Mediterranean Caper,” was published in 1973, and introduced Pitt in a battle against a nefarious international drug smuggling ring. It was the first of dozen of adventures featuring Pitt.
Cussler founded a real-life NUMA, an organization dedicated to American maritime and naval history. Its volunteers have discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites
Of his books, 73 titles that Cussler authored or co-authored hit USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books List. Two titles, “The Gangster” (2016) and “Valhalla Rising” (2001), debuted at the No. 1 spot. His tenure on the list spanned decades. The first title to hit the list was “Inca Gold” in 1994; the most recent was “Final Option” in 2019.
Cussler’s adventures have twice been adapted for the big screen: In the 1980 film “Raise the Titanic” starring Richard Jordan as Pitt, and in the 2005 film “Sahara,” starring Matthew McConaughey as Pitt.
His newest book, “Journey of the Pharaohs,” written with frequent coauthor Graham Brown, goes on sale March 10.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Clive Cussler, prolific adventure novelist, is dead at 88