Monday, January 27, 2020

Old Bones - Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Summary: Nora Kelly, a young but successful curator with a series of important excavations already under her belt, is approached by the handsome Historian, Clive Benton, to lead an expedition unlike any other. Clive tells his story--one involving the ill-fated Donner Party, who became permanently lodged in the American consciousness in the winter of 1847, when the first skeletonized survivors of the party stumbled out of the California mountains, replete with tales of courage, resourcefulness, bad luck, murder, barbarism--and, finally, starvation and cannibalism.

Captivated by the Donner Party, Nora agrees and they venture into the Sierra Nevada in search of the camp. Quickly, they learn that the discovery of the missing starvation camp is just the tip of the iceberg--and that the real truth behind those long-dead pioneers is not only far more complex and surprising than they could have imagined...but it is one that puts them both in mortal danger from a very real, present-day threat in which the search for the lost party, and its fabled fortune in gold, are merely means to a horrifying end. (Summary and pic from

My Review: As avid readers, I know that you complete understand what I’m about to say—there are some authors I just really, really like, and I will read pretty much all of their stuff. That’s it. No surprise really, right? There are authors that I’m proud to say that I do this for—Barbara Kingsolver is one of them, Alice Hoffman, Kristin Hannah, and many others. I feel cool and literary when I say such things and name drop. Then there are some authors that I really love that write really long series of books that aren’t necessarily super serious or known for their ability to win the Pulitzer. They’re just good. They’re fun, they’re comfortable, they feel like home. When a new book comes out in one of the much-beloved series, I read it. If they start a new series, I’ll read at least the first one, knowing that even if I don’t love it I still love the authors so much and there are so many things in the canon that I do love that it’s all good. Three authors come to mind—Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce is possibly my fave character of all time), Alexander McCall Smith (Precious Ramotswe is infinitely wise and I love the stories), and the writing duo Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (because Agent Pendergast is the coolest). It was easy to pick these three authors, of course, because they are all enormously popular and well-loved and if you haven’t read anything from even one of them, I suggest you do that right now. Like RIGHT now.

Today I am excited because Preston and Child have started a new series. I am an avid fan of the Agent Pendergast series, and as soon as those books come out I read them and love them and just appreciate how cool Pendergast is and what great storytellers Preston and Child are. This is a new spinoff series based on two acquaintances of Agent Pendergast, and although he makes an appearance at the very end, the two leads are two cool and empowered women that have been mentioned before in other stories—Dr. Nora Kelly, an archaeologist, and Special Agent Corrie Swanson of the FBI. Both of these women are educated, talented, and no-nonsense kind of gals. They’re good at what they do, they know it, and they are competent. Preston and Child have other cool female characters in the Pendergast series, and those women are often way cooler than their male counterparts, which, ya know. Reality? However, having two female leads is a fun and interesting change to the typical Pendergast novels. It adds different elements to the story and the relationships are different as well, which is also a fun change.

One thing I really enjoy about the Preston and Child books is that they have interesting backgrounds for their stories. There is always something compelling and mysterious or exotic about topics they have chosen, and I find that endlessly delightful. This book is of no exception. Not only does it include murder and mystery, but it includes an archaeological dig for the Donner Party. I mean. Talk about fascinating. Who isn’t equally disturbed and fascinated with the Donner Party? The idea of a lost diary found from one of the Donner Party that not only mentions a lost camp but also a potential treasure of gold worth $20 million? This is thriller novel gold, people.

This book has the strengths that I love in the Pendergast series—a fast-paced, interesting story; great characters who are interesting and relatable, including some that are incredibly flawed; an enjoyable reading experience where the writing is so practiced and honed that you can speed along and finish a book in just a few hours, should that be your thing (it should). I just really enjoy the opportunity I have to appreciate a good book without having to be super committed to series concepts or very difficult literary concepts and ideas. Sometimes I just want to binge on brain candy. These books are just that—brain candy with interest and facts and cool characters and great storytelling. Like I said—it’s got it all.

If you have read any of the Lincoln and Child series (they have several), or are looking for a fast-paced thriller that can either stand alone or allow for more reading later when the next one(s) come out, I highly recommend this book. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s fast-paced, it’s well-written.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and discussion of violence, although nothing is too descriptive or extreme.

1 comment:

Republic Furniture said...

Thank you. You sold me and I look forward to enjoying it.


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