Author Clive Cussler riding in a classic car. File photo/AP
Clive Cussler had a rare knack for turning adventure and intrigue into success stories. He also introduced his family members in his novels – to telling effect.
He spun personal stuff and superb imagination in his thrillers about an underwater explorer, riveting the reader's attention in the process.
The bestselling US author and keen underwater adventurer died at the age of 88, his family said on Wednesday.
Cussler was the prolific writer of more than 80 books, mainly fast-paced action thrillers such as "Sahara" and "Raise the Titanic!” which collectively sold tens of millions of copies.
"It is with a heavy heart that I want to share the sad news that my husband, Clive passed away on Monday," his wife Janet Horvath wrote on Facebook.
"I want to thank you, his fans and friends for all the support, for all the good times and all the adventures you have shared with him," she added.
The cause of death was not disclosed. He reportedly passed at his home in Arizona.
According to Cussler's website, his books were published in more than 40 languages in more than 100 countries.
Many featured the same, larger-than-life hero Dirk Pitt, who was named after Cussler's own son.
Like his creator, Pitt collected classic cars and embarked on deep-sea adventures.
In real life, Cussler said his National Underwater and Marine Agency, a non-profit group, had discovered more than 60 submerged shipwrecks.
These included the Carpathia, which rescued survivors from the stricken Titanic, and the U-boat that sparked America's entry into World War I by sinking the Lusitania.
Born in Illinois in 1931, Cussler was raised in California and served as a mechanic in the US Air Force during the Korean War.
After working at a petrol station, Cussler rose up in the advertising business before getting his first novel published in 1973.
Success swiftly followed with "Raise the Titanic!" in 1976, described by Kirkus as "overabundantly plotted" and with "a readership which won't stop to come up for air."
Cussler went on to compile a fortune worth an estimated $80 million, according to the New York Times.
He is survived by second wife Horvath, along with his three children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
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