Although Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have – separately and together – written a stacked shelf full of books, this is the first of their titles that I’ve tried. And it won’t be the last! Old Bones is an extremely enjoyable archaeological romp, a treasure hunt which turns nasty in the best possible way.
It’s a spin-off from the authors’ other series but the key characters stand well on their own, particularly Corrie Swanson, a rookie FBI agent eager to get her teeth into a real investigation instead of reviewing cold cases. Her opposite number, Nora, is an archaeologist who’s on the brink of exposing more than a mere historical mystery. This pair rub each other up the wrong way for much of the book, but it’s their developing relationship which keep the story grounded.
Similarly, the archaeological dig and the FBI investigation are kept credible with plenty of technical details and some ambiguously weird spookynatural stirrings. The result is an undemanding but entertaining page-turner, one that’s far more plausible than the typical global conspiracy, the type which go spiralling off into the realms of megalomaniac make-believe. I definitely enjoyed this more than the last Dan Brown effort and it’s rather more detailed and thoughtful than the average tomb-raiding romp.
The authors’ attention to historical detail certainly adds to this story. It delivers a chilling slice of American pioneer history – the doomed Donner party who set off west with high hopes, foundered in the mountains, and resorted to desperate measures to try to survive. Preston and Child successful weave their own intrigue around this background and the powerful landscape of the isolated Californian mountains.
A solid start to a new series, then, and a book which has inspired me to go look at the authors’ earlier thrillers…
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Old Bones by Preston & Child is available at Amazon