The Chase by Clive Cussler Penguin, HK$94 You know an author has really made it when his or her best-sellers have their own registered trademark. Clive Cussler must be really big because he inserts ? after not one but two best-selling serials: his Dirk Pitt(?) maritime adventures, and his seven NUMA Files(?) stories. Whether The Chase will earn an ? remains to be seen. Set in two time periods (1950 and 1906), it is a historical novel with only a slightly maritime bent: in 1950, the shell of a locomotive engine is pulled from a lake in Montana. Having alienated his water-obsessed fans thus far, Cussler becomes drier still with the tale of a land-lubbing bank robber called the 'Butcher Bandit'. Without the aid of fins or a scuba-dive tank, the Butcher maims, kills and steals until a desperate US government (is there any other kind?) sets gentleman detective Isaac Bell on his trail. Cussler's dialogue creeks like an old wooden leg. 'A detective who knows the inner workings of banking procedures is not good,' one character says of Bell. 'I agree,' comes the sparkling reply. Then again, this is Clive Cussle? not Oscar Wilde and The Chase should keep his fans happy until the next ?-rated story from his best-selling serials.