Thursday, October 24, 2019

Old Bones by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Everyone knows the story of the Donner Party. And the ruins of their ill-fated campsite have been studied to no end. But when evidence of a rumored third campsite is found, Nora Kelly can't resist the urge to be part of the discovery. 

Nora is approached by a historian in possession Tamsyn Donner's own journal. While the journal itself is of significant historical value, it's the information inside that's the real treasure: a sort of map that Nora believes they can follow to the third campsite. 

But it's the promise of something much more tempting that leads to the funding of the expedition. Gold that has never been recovered and could be hidden at the site. Enough that would pay for the cost of the entire dig. Enough that would endanger the expedition should the information get out. 

Under a veil of secrecy, Nora and her team set off through difficult terrain in search of the campsite. But someone is following them. Someone who knows the value of what the Donner Party was carrying. Someone who will do anything to find it. 

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child kick off a new series with Old Bones. It's not new, new, just Pendergast-adjacent new. 

Longtime readers will remember Nora from Thunderhead and a number of Pendergast titles. And while she was the main character in Thunderhead, Old Bones is the start of her official series. One that pairs her with another character fans will recognize, FBI Agent Corrie Swanson. 

The book is, as is true of all of the Preston and Child's books, a fun blend of historical fact, science, and fiction with a dash of maybe paranormal. And I loved almost all of it. The build was great. Nora, post Smithback, was great. And I absolutely loved the twist on the Donner story, especially seeing as how it was something of a theme in my reading at the time. 

The only thing I didn't love was the way the story wrapped up. The final reveal wasn't a rich in detail and explanation as I would have liked. It felt a little too quick and easy and ultimately fell a little flat for me. 

Let me stress that it wasn't disappointing to the point that I couldn't enjoy the book as a whole. Nor would it enough to deter me from recommending the heck out of this one, especially if you're new to the authors. In fact, this is the perfect diving in point for anyone who may be Pendergast curious but intimidated by the very large backlist of that series. 

Nora has always been one of my favorite side characters in the Pendergast series and I am so excited to see where they'll take her next!

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