Kurt Austin is a researcher for NUMA.
As a member of the National Underwater and Marine Agency, he travels the world investigating unusual events and phenomena related to the oceans and seas. He is highly educated and inately intelligent so, when coupled with his athleticism and his unbridled curiosity, makes him an excellent candidate for getting into messes and then getting himself out. At first glance he appears older than he is as his prematurely white hair gives him an aged look that his phsyical ability contradict.
NUMA is the same agency that a more famouse character, Dirk Pitt, works for though the two have little contact with each other. As a top agent for this maritime bureau, Austin gets involved in activities far outside normal underwater investigations. He is joined in his many assignments by a close friend, Joe Zavala, who provides numerous, often witty, observations of their situations.
It is not necessary to read the Pitt series to enjoy the adventures of Kurt Austin, even though Austin shares a lot in common with the other
character, such as a love of adventure and collecting. Austin is an avid collector of antique firearms and is always on the lookout to add to his extensive collection. When he is not on an assignment, Austin can often be found taking part in another favored pasttime, boat racing.
The type of excitement that Austin and Zavala get into usually consists of some antique or ancient artifact being discovered or whispered about that can affect the modern work, often related to the ocean, or some strange underwater event is transpiring caused by a man made activity. It is the job of this pair to find the cause or object and make sure that it does not adversely change the state of the oceans and/or the world.
Clive Cussler had such phenomenal success with his first series, Dirk Pitt, that it was only natural he expand, especially when another top-selling author, Tom Clancy, was doing so well with his style of propagation. The system, now being emulated by even more top layer authors, like the late Robert Ludlum, is to create a series that a different author actually writes under the guidance of the primary talent. With the Austin series, the writer, and possibly co-creator, is Paul Kemprecos.