Patty Lou Cutting: The Clive Cussler Conundrum

As we all know, odd little facts about a story can stay with the reader for years, so after last week’s team success in finding a book I had sought for years, I thought I would throw another wider ranging mystery your way to capture your imaginations.

I touched on this a few years ago in another aged post, along with some other various things. It comes from the book Inca Gold, a book of action, adventure, and a lost treasure, which always adds something thrilling to a story.

Towards the end of the book, protagonist Dirk Pitt comes across the grave of 10-year-old girl, Patty Lou Cutting, in the Sonoran Desert, Mexico, upon which the are the words:

The dark night some stars shine through.

The dullest morn a radiant brew.

And where dusk comes, God’s hand to you.

The significance of which is never expanded upon, it just hangs there cryptically, tantalisingly challenging the reader with its nebulous presence.

Having a look around the internet, it is confirmed by the author himself that the grave is real.  He came across it in a small village graveyard, whilst on an archaeological tour of the Sonoran desert.  It stood out being the only gravestone written in English.

Cussler, perplexed at the riddle of who the girl was, inserted his experience into the novel in the hope that someone would come forward with information to provide closure.  It appears the best guess so far is that a Mormon missionary went down to Mexico, and Patty Lou was his daughter.

As appealing as this mystery is – and an answer is always welcome – perhaps it is best left as it is; a riddle of time and place to be romanticised and speculated upon.   That this appeared so unexpectedly in my reading journey is just one of the many joys of reading widely, but researching and sharing has been even more fun.  I wonder what other mysteries are still to be uncovered…

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17 Replies to “Patty Lou Cutting: The Clive Cussler Conundrum”

  1. I hope that Patty Lou’s grave is still there and stumbled upon from time to time. I’m happy for her that she is in Cussler’s book. You make an interesting point here and in your previous post about the outcome of mysteries being something of a let down – I think this is why I have moved away from crime fiction over the years. It is also why the films of books can sometimes be a disappointment, because they can never live up to our own imagination. But overall, isn’t it great to be able to share views and ideas about what things mean and look like.

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    1. Crime fiction that adds in that bit of information at the end that the reader was never privy to, is horrible and lazy. Crime is a decent break from other genres but I agree, I only read so much, and enjoy the short stories more. I think the theories abut a mystery are fun and people should always thro in the odd outlandish one, Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum springs to mind!

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    1. It is a melancholy story but I loved that he chose to include it and share what could have just been a forgotten travel anecdote with the world.

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  2. Every time we come to a four-way stop in traffic (which as you may know or not, in the U.S. involves the ancient right-of-way concept) someone in our car (as the often ignorant-of-right-of-way drivers in the other cars do whatever the hell they want) will recite an old rhyme which was either supposed to be the work of Ogden Nash or Anonymous: “This is the grave of John O’Day,/ Who died maintaining his right of way./His right was clear, His will was strong,/ But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.” Needless to say, we always cede the right of way even when it’s ours, the more especially as where we are now living has a large share of selfish drivers.

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    1. Anonymous was such a prolific writer, and such longevity! Your grid system does encourage people to try to make their own luck which is drama not needed on the road. It was probably a lot safer with horses, back in the day.

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    1. He did indeed. It is strange that there aren’t any films, what with the blend of action and adventure. Sahara was the only other one of his books that appealed to me, after Inca Gold but I never did get around to picking a copy up.

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  3. That definitely sounds like an intriguing mystery. It is cool that the author added that real life tidbit into the story. Information like that helps to make a story memorable

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    1. It feeds the imagination too. I love how it just pops up, once again showing that books have an infinite fascination, and encouragement for both imagination, and its real world applications.

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