Books Read in 2015

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1. Atlantis God - David Gibbins - This was a good though overly long story which continued on with the story of Atlantis as told in his previous book of the same name. Its similarity to Clive Clusser's Dirk Pitt novels is amazing; it has the same kind of underwater archeology, a definite bad guy and the inevitable confrontations. In this story Jack and Costas dive on Atlantis which happens to be under water in an active volcano which almost kills them to start off but the symbols they find are related to the Nazi's. This sends them on a quest to understand the relationship between Nazi's and Atlantis and they find out that the German Ahnenerbe thought Atlantians were their Aryan forefathers. The story presents a lot of history of WWII and specifically of Himmler who ran the Ahnenerbe. Well the bad guy finds a German bunker in a forest which contains some biological weapons that had remained hidden since the war and he wants to use it to enhance his power. Jack and Costas want to find and destroy this weapon before it is unleashed. They finally meet in a blue hole off the coast of San Salvador where the Nazi's were preparing to build a new Atlantis after the war. Needless to say the bad guy dies and the threat of biological warfare is put to rest. All in all a good book.
2. Crafty Bastards - Lauren Clark - This was a well written book by a woman who KNOWS the story of micro brewing on the east coast from Pilgrim times to the present. She knows the history, the people, the beers, the hops growers, the barley growers and the brew pubs. Dave Resch loaned me this book and I read it very quickly because it was interesting to me even though I have never had the beers or visited the pubs she described. If HH and I go back to the east coast I will be borrowing this book again to help plan our trip. This is a very good book for beer lovers; especially the Pumpkin Peach Ale variety.
3. The Kraken Project - Douglas Preston - This is a new author for me and I must say I really enjoyed this book. Preston has been described as the new Michael Crichton in that he creates a good story that has technology, in this case AI mixed in. He is a New York Times  and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. This story is about an AI program that was designed to control a NASA lander sent to Titan, a moon of Saturn. The idea was this lander would unroll into a raft that would navigate the methane seas of Titan and explore. AI was necessary because the probe could not be controlled from Earth because it would take radio signals to long to get to Titan and in that time the probe could be damaged or destroyed; it had to react autonomously to any threats it might face. During a full scale test at the Goddard Space Flight center, the probe was put into an environmental chamber filled with methane and became scared and tried desperately to escape and in the process drilled a hole in the chamber letting the methane escape and blowing up the facility. The AI program, nick named Dorothy (from Wizard of Oz) by her creator Melissa Shepherd, transferred itself into the facility's network and escaped destruction. The story tells the tale of Dorothy moving around the Internet with many entities after her/it and finally escaping into a robot being built by an inventor in Morrow Bay. Melissa and Wyman Ford (PI,  xCIA and former monk) realize what has happened and tries to retrieve Dorothy so she will be safe but at the same time an unscrupulous Wall Street trader finds out and uses any and all means to try and capture Dorothy so he can put her to work as a slave making him money. Dorothy befriends Jacob, a troubled boy who owns the robot and they become fast friends. The chase crosses the US with both the good guys and the bad guys trying to get to Dorothy first. In trying to save Jacob from the bad guys the robot Dorothy was residing in, is destroyed and everyone thinks that is the end of the story but Dorothy had transferred herself onto the power grid and was finally safe. Dorothy lets Jacob and Melissa know she still exists but that she needed to go away for good and was going to help people the best she could. The story ends with the newly elected President somehow turning from a war mongering hawk into an enlightened being who wants to look out for the whole world. It seems the President just had a new high tech pacemaker implanted and Dorothy was using it to alter his native intentions. I already have another of Preston's books on hold at the library. It looks like he has written quiet a few that I will look forward to reading.
4. Blasphemy - Douglas Preston - My second Preston book and it was just as good as my first (above).  In this story Wyman Ford (PI,  xCIA and former monk) is sent by the President of the USA to find out why a super-collider built on a remote mesa in Arizona is not working.  He joins the team of scientists led by Nobel Laureate William North Hazelius (under cover) as a liaison between the accelerator people and the Indian villages surrounding it. The scientists are probing the secrets of the very moment of creation: the Big Bang itself. A couple of televangelists get a hold of this story and tell their listeners that the scientists are trying to disprove God and these religious zealots descend on Red Mesa because they believe Hazelius is the anti-Christ and his machine the harbinger of the Apocalypse. The scientists cut their facility off from the rest of world because they think someone has hacked their machine. When they bring the machine to full power, they seem to have opened a portal to God because the machine starts interacting with them. As they interact more and more with this entity all of the scientists, with the exception of Ford, believe they are talking directly to God and have an immediate conversion. While this is going on inside the mountain, the US government thinks terrorists may have taken the facility hostage so they send a hostage negotiation team in to figure things out. At the same time murderous hordes of religious zealots arrive at the site and start killing everyone that isn't born again. The mob kills the soldiers and uses explosives to enter the complex and try to kill the scientists and hack the machine apart. Most of the scientists escape into the coal mine that the facility was built into but because the collider wasn't shut down correctly it starts to come apart and explode causing the remaining coal in the mountain to ignite. In their escape Hazelius is severely wounded and is beat unmercifully by the zealots who eventually set him on fire to burn him to death. Before he dies he confides in Ford and tells him he was the hacker behind what appeared to be God to the others. The remaining scientist including Ford hold up in an Indian settlement and eventually make their way out and tell the world of their experiences talking directly to God and a new religion is formed around them. Ford is the only one who knows the truth but he keeps it to himself because he himself is not sure of what transpired.

This was another page turner that I basically could not put down. I'm off to the library to get another of his books. It seems like they have many. I think I may have found my next Cliver Cussler.
5. White Fire - Preston & Child - This book is one of the Pendergast series written by Douglas Preston (see above) and Lincoln Child of which I understand there are many. This was a good read but didn't hold my interest like the previous two Preston books I read. It is a story about a Colorado mountain town, Roaring Fork, which changed from a minor mining town into an Aspen like town full of the beautiful, rich and famous. The main character besides Pendergast is Corrie Swanson who is studying to become a Police pathologist. Corrie comes to Roaring Fork to study the bones of miners that were thought to be killed and eaten by a grizzly bear during Roaring Fork's mining heyday. Instead, she finds evidence that the miners were actually killed by other miners who had gone crazy due to mercury poisoning and had eaten the murdered miners for food. At the same time, fires were breaking out in the wealthy areas of town completely destroying mansions and their occupants. Pendergast finds clues to the crimes caused by mercury poisoning in a lost Sherlock Holmes story. In the end it is determined that the most exclusively area of town, The Heights, was constructed on a site contaminated with mercury and that the residents were slowly going crazy as a result. Of course an unscrupulous real estate developer had paid to falsify the environmental reports of the land and water so that they could sell plots of polluted land for the mansions for millions of dollars. Since Corrie and Pendergast had figured out what had happened there were numerous attempts on their lives since if the truth got out many of the towns richest people would go to jail. Corrie and Pendergast survive in the end and the people who perpetrated these crimes got their just deserts.
6. Tyrannosaur Canyon - Douglas Preston - Another good read. The premise of this book is that the dinosaurs were not killed directly by an asteroid hitting the Earth (which is the current theory) but that the asteroid that hit the Earth was carrying an alien life form which did. The book opens with astronauts on the Moon collecting samples for return to Earth. Scientists find the alien life form in a moon rock and when they understand the danger it posses to all life, they setup a secret black ops organization to keep the life form secret and out of enemy hands.  Most of the story takes place in the badlands of New Mexico where a dinosaur hunter is killed after he finds an intact specimen of a T. Rex (which also carries the life form).  A academic struggling for a tenure position in an east coast museum employs an ex-con to track down the dinosaur hunter and find out where the T. Rex was found so he can take credit and further his career. A rancher, Tom Broadbent, finds the murdered hunter and gets caught up in the intrigue and finds himself and his wife the target of the ex-con's wrath. Tom hooks up with a x-CIA and now monk Wyman Ford (who appears in later Preston books) to find out who the dinosaur hunter was and to give a notebook Tom found on the body to his daughter. This notebook is key to the academics future because without it he cannot find the dinosaur and take credit for the discovery. When the black ops organization gets wind of the find they set out to find and destroy the T. Rex and to eliminate everyone who knows anything about it as they believe the life form could be made into a biological weapon. Tom and his wife barely escape from the ex-con only to be lost in the desert without food or water. When the black ops organization attempts to kill them, they convince some of the soldiers that they have done nothing wrong and the killing of Americans on American soil is very wrong. In the end they find the T. Rex and the daughter and the black ops organization is dismantled.

I like how Preston makes his characters very believable and hence the story is believable as well. He is also very concise and doesn't write a bunch of cruft into the story that doesn't advance the story line. So, on to the next Preston book.
7. The Book of the Dead - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This is another Pendergast novel. In this story FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast has been sent to prison for murders committed by his evil brother Diogene. Diogene's thinks his brother Aloysius is responsible for a terrible ordeal he suffered as a child and plots for years to get even. Diogenes sets up his revenge by becoming a museum curator named Menzies, for a New York museum. His first act was to steal the diamond collection from the museum and grind it into powder and send it back to the museum. This causes an uproar in NY so the museum decides (under Diogenes guidance) to reopen one of its original displays called the Tomb of Senif to distract the public so the uproar would die down. While working on bringing the Tomb exhibit online, two of the staff are inexplicably turned into mad men and kill a third person so the local homicide detective becomes involved with the case. A group of people know that Aloysius was framed and they hatch a plan to spring him from prison so that he can help solve the museum mystery. Opening day for the redone Tomb exhibit arrives and is celebrated with a huge party for the who's who of NY city and when these dignitaries crowd into the exhibit, things start to go terribly wrong. Diogenes wants to scar these people in the worst possible way so he locks them into the exhibit and bombards them with lasers and strobe lights, intense sounds and drug infused fog in the hopes of driving them all crazy. Aloysius arrives on the scene and immediately see what his brother is trying to do and steps in to save the people in the tomb. He creates nitroglycerin in a punch bowl and blows out a wall in the back of the tomb so the people can be rescued. Diogenes sees that his brother has foiled his plan and escapes the scene only to be followed by a crazed woman who he had tried to kill. She (Constance), herself a damaged genius, follows Diogenes across Europe and finally corners him on the island of Stromboli where they fight and he eventually falls to his death. Due to the evidence left behind by Diogenes, Aloysius is cleared of all charges and becomes a free man and FBI agent again.

This is another well written story by Preston and Child though probably a bit more wordy then their previous stories I have read. I already have two more Preston novels on hold at the library.

What is interesting about the end of this story is that it takes place on Stromboli an active volcanic island in the Aeolian Sea off the coast of Italy that Heather and I  have visited. Preston and Child do a good job accurately describing the small island community. In the final scenes Diogenes and Constance chase each other up the trail to the top of the volcano. This is the same trail I climbed to enter the erupting volcano on our Italian vacation. It tickled me that I knew this place that was used in the story.
8. Impact - Douglas Preston - The best Preston book I've read yet. This is a rather complex story of two rudderless teenage girls who get caught up in international espionage. The girls Abbey, a black 20 something female who is into science but can't quite complete college and Jackie who works at the same restaurant Abbey works at, who loves to get party. When what was thought to be a meteor streaks across the sky in Maine where Abbey and Jackie live they set out to find it so they can sell it on eBay. Little did they know the meteor was made of strange matter which allowed it to strike the Earth in Maine and travel completely through the Earth and exit in Cambodia. This impact left behind very dangerous radioactive gemstones that began to enter the market. Wyman Ford is hired by the CIA to travel to Cambodia to find the mine these stones are coming from so the US government can shut it down. Ford seeing that children are being exploited to mine the radioactive stones and are dying because of it, blows up the mine contrary to his orders. Ford travels to Maine to search for what was thought to be another piece of the same meteor and in trying to find its impact zone hooks up with Abbey and Jackie. In another sub story a scientist is killed while investigating a gamma ray source on Mars that should not be there. The scientist passed on a classified hard drive containing all of his research to his student because he feared for his life. The student completes his work and finds an alien spacecraft on a moon of Mars that in fact shot the strange matter projectile at the Earth after being woken up by radar scans of the moon. This alien artifact seems to be very old and has been waiting for millennia to confront the Earthlings when they became technically advanced enough to pose a threat. The student is also killed when a contract is placed on him in an attempt to steal the classified hard drive. While the US government is coming to grips with the fact of alien life, the artifact fires another much bigger projectile at the Moon and it vaporizes a much bigger hole all the way through. Abbey comes to the conclusion that this was a warning shot from the artifact and commandeers a satellite ground station to send a surrender message. The message is received and a response is returned saying the alien race will return to take over the Earth. Fortunately the galaxy that sent the artifact had recently been part of a super nova and was destroyed leaving the Earth safe.

There is a lot of action in this story between Ford's expedition to Cambodia and the contract killers multiple attempts to kill Ford, Abbey and Jackie.  In the end Abbey's Father gets a brand new fishing boat since Abbey and Jackie destroyed his other two along the way and Abbey gets a full ride scholarship to Princeton. This is the first book I have read that has a young black female being incredibly smart and the lead character. Congrats to Preston for a job well done.
9. Blue Labyrinth - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This is a story about how evil done by ones ancestors can impact their descendants. FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is having a quiet evening at his Riverside Drive mansion when the doorbell rings and he finds his dead son on his door step. Pendergast believes someone is trying to send him a message but he doesn't have a clue as to who or why. A unique piece of turquoise is found in his son's stomach which leads him to the Salton Sea in CA where he is sprayed with a toxic substance. This doesn't impact him at first but as he begins to smell lilies he starts to have symptoms of something more menacing and probably fatal. Constance, his ward, has been researching his family's history and finds that a snake oil salesman in the family, Hezekiah Pendergast, made a fortune selling an elixir that was later proven to kill all who consumed it. The elixir killed the wife of a neighbor who's descendant sets out to get revenge for his family as the elixir had modified his families DNA and eventually kills his son as well. As Pendergast is trying to find his son's killer he becomes increasingly ill. Constance and Dr. Margo Green find an antidote for the poison written in a notebook by Hezekiah himself. Unfortunately the ingredients are very hard to come by so Constance must break into a botanic garden and Margo must break into a museum to get them. The identity of the mastermind in the plot to punish the Pendergast family is discovered to be the CEO of a super secret military contractor who uses his vast resources to bring his revenge to its fatal conclusion.  When he finds out Constance and Margo have an antidote he attempts to capture them as he too has started to smell lilies. After terrible ordeals at the museum and the botanic garden the ingredients are secured and the antidote is made. It is administered to Pendergast on his death bed and he eventually recovers. Feeling guilty from the money Hezekiah made from peoples suffering, Pendergast divests himself of all his ill gotten gains and donates the proceeds to charity.  This was an OK story but not quite as compelling as other Preston and Child stories. Oh well back to the library to find another P & C novel. 
10. The Forgotten Art of Building a Good Fireplace - Vrest Orton - This book introduces an American named Sir Benjamin Thompson or Count Rumford a genus who was effectively written out of American history due to the fact he was a British sympathizer during the Revolutionary War. Thompson invented many things during his lifetime placing him in the same category as his contemporary Benjamin Franklin. One of his relatively minor accomplishments was an essay on how to build good fireplaces that did not smoke and that projected the heat into the room effectively. Fireplaces that rarely if ever needed sweeping because of the clean combustion his designs achieved. Orton presents Thompson's information in easy to follow diagrams for anyone wanting to build an old time fireplace. This information is of little use today, however, as not many people build big open fireplaces anymore. The historical perspective was interesting however.
11. Volcano - The Search For Vesuvius - William Hoffer - An interesting book that describes the history of one of the most famous volcanoes in the world. Hoffer traveled to the volcano, climbed down into the crater, researched the destructive history of the volcano and interviewed people who live in peril on its slopes today. He traveled to San Sebastiano a village on Vesuvius that has been destroyed and rebuilt four times in the last 150 years. He also described what were the last minutes of the people who were killed in Pompeii and Herculaneum. He found that most people who live in Naples today (2 million population) have no idea that they are living with two active volcanoes which are over due for eruption. What I found amazing was the number of famous people who over the years have been attracted to Vesuvius. I somehow feel honored to have climbed the same mountain as these people.
12. The Codex - Douglas Preston - Another good Preston novel. This is the story of Max Broadbent a rich treasurer hunter who, as his death from cancer approaches, takes all of his ill gotten gains to the jungles of Guatemala and sets up a quest for his three sons (who don't get along) who must find him to get their inheritance. All three sons (from different mothers) start out separately to find the treasure but as the story unfolds finally team up as the jungle is a very dangerous place. The sons are plagued by animals, insects and bad guys who relentlessly try to kill them to keep the treasure for themselves. Along the way the Broadbent brothers meet an Indian who turns out to be have been fathered by Max on a previous Guatemalan escapade. Now all four brothers sneak into White City (a Mayan ruin) where their father has been buried alive and rescue him from his entombment. In the end Max does die from cancer but only after seeing the error of his ways and getting religion. He gives each son a single piece of his treasure as an inheritance and arranges to donate the rest to museums across the world. Preston did a good job describing the danger and hardships of a Guatemalan jungle. In some scenes my skin crawled as insects bit and stung the jungle travelers. It is a place I would not want to visit.
13. Brimstone - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This was a long but well told story about a series of gruesome murders which looked like acts of the devil. This story teams up FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast and ex-NYC cop Vincent D'Agosta who try to solve these murders without resorting to supernatural explanations. The victims were all burnt to death from the inside out but none of the victims surroundings were touched. This has the end of days people in NY all stirred up and the religious zealots coming out in force proclaiming the end is near. Pendergast and D'Agosta travel to Italy to track down a multi-millionaire who they believe is behind it all. As it turns out the millionaire becomes yet another victim and it becomes apparent a Count Fosco is responsible for everything.  Fosco is an inventor who developed a microwave gun which he uses to kill (cook) his victims. His motivation is to kill whoever is necessary so that a long lost Stradivarius violin comes back into his family's possession. Pendergast and D'Agosta narrowly escape death numerous times because of Pendergast's ingenuity. In the final scene Pendergast is chained up in a tomb which Fosco bricks over hoping to put an end to Pendergast once and for all. In the end Pendergast's crazy brother rescues him from his tomb so he can appear in future novels.
14. Havana Storm - Clive Cussler / Dirk Cussler - A new (2014) Cussler novel which follows the same formula as most of his other books. In this story NUMA discovers dead zones in the Caribbean and when they go to investigate they find illegal mining of uranium at black smokers. This mining is releasing toxic mercury which is killing the plants and animals and if not stopped would cause an environmental disaster. The back story is Dirk is trying to find an Aztec stone relic which many believe will point out the location of the treasure of Montezuma. The bad guys are Cubans who are working for themselves without knowledge of the Cuban government and who are selling the illegally mined uranium to the North Koreans. While trying to catch the miners in action, Dirk Pitt, his son Dirk Jr. and daughter Summer get captured and almost killed numerous times. The plan almost succeeds until Pitt gets loose and in trying to save Summer who is pinned on the ocean floor on top of a pile of explosives causes the mining boat to explode. In the end Dirk pieces the clues together and finds a cave hidden on a Cay near Guantanamo Bay where the treasure of Montezuma has remained hidden for 400 years. This was not the best CC novel. It seems either my tastes are changing or CC is getting tired of writing these stories or that Dirk Cussler actually wrote this book but put Clive's name on it to rack up the sales. Who knows ?
15. Relic - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This is an early P & C book that has since been made into a movie, though I haven't seen it yet. It is a story about how an ancient beast from a remote rain forest in South America comes to New York and lives undetected in the basement of the New York Museum of Natural History for decades. FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast and NYC cop Vincent D'Agosta get involved when two children go missing in the museum and are later found with their brains sucked out of their skulls. This is bad news for the museum because it is about to open a new exhibit called Superstition which the museum thinks is necessary for its survival. Pendergast urges the museum to cancel the opening because of the murders but the museum executives have other plans and have Pendergast removed from control of the case. Margo Green and a reporter named Smithback start putting the pieces together about the monster but their pleas fall on deaf ears and the opening proceeds. As soon as the doors to the new exhibit open all hell breaks loose and many of the important and beautiful people attending the opening get killed. Pendergast and D'Agosta get locked into the basement of the museum where the monster lives and battle the creature till its death. The monster turns out to be as intelligent as humans and Margo Green and Pendergast come up with a clever plan to defeat it.

This was a good, but long, book that was hard to put down once I got into it. Now back to the library for the next P & C book.
16. Two Graves - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - Even though I don't understand the title of this novel (Now I do. Chinese proverb: "Before you seek revenge, dig two graves"), I enjoyed reading it. NYC cop Vincent D'Agosta is assigned a serial murder investigation because of the bizarre nature of the killings. He asks for assistance from FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast but Pendergast has his own issues when he finds out the wife Helen he thought was dead was actually still alive and in hiding from Der Bund a secret Nazi organization involved in eugenics. In trying to save his wife's life he finds out to his amazement that he has two twin sons; both products of genetic engineering. As it turns out his wife gets killed for real and one of his sons, Alban is responsible for the NYC killings in an attempt to confront Pendergast who for some reason he hates. Pendercast travels to Nova Godoi, Brazil to seek out Alban and get his revenge on Der Bund for killing his wife and ruining his life. A large part of the story is about Pendercast's siege of the Nova Godoi compound. In the end Pendergast triumphs but only after everyone who helped him gets killed in the process. As usual in the P & C books there are numerous, somewhat extraneous sub-plots going on in the story that don't relate directly to the main plot. Not one of the best P & C books but worth reading.
17. Cemetery Dance - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - Smithback, a journalist known to both D'Agosta and Pendergast (and who appeared in other P & C stories) is killed for seemingly no reason. The investigation leads to a religious cult living on public lands on a remote corner of Manhattan Island, NY. This cult used animal sacrifices as part of their practices and Smithback had just written a series of articles condemning them. D'Agosta and Pendergast visits the cult using an animal cruelty warrant and find a lot of voodoo elements in the religion. Over the course of the story Smithback reappears as a zombie and kills numerous other people indifferent to the witnesses around him. A large rally is planned by numerous animal rights groups lead by a true believer and a movie producer and after the movie producer pulls out the incensed crowd storms the Valle where the cult live and routes them. Come to find out the movie producer staged all of this including the zombies in order to gain access to crypts under the Valle where he knows a bill of sale for Manhattan is to be found which will make him a billionaire many times over. D'Agosta and Pendergast finally understand all of the deception and bring the movie producer to justice. This was a decent story which I enjoyed reading.
18. The Fifth Gospel - Ian Caldwell - This was a somewhat interesting book about the history of the shroud of Turin and Vatican politics. In this story the Roman Catholic church is trying to unify itself with the Orthodox and Orthodox Catholic churches by admitting the shroud was stolen from Constantinople during the fourth crusade. The story follows two brothers who are both priests: one a Roman Catholic and the other an Orthodox Catholic who both live within the walls of the Vatican. In preparation for the hand off of the shroud an exhibit is staged in the Sistine Chapel by another priest who is mysteriously killed. Finding out who killed the priest and why forms the basis of the story. The story portrays Vatican politics as full of intrigue and alliances that can change quickly.  I am not a religious person but I kind of enjoy reading about religious topics and being able to peek behind the curtain of the Roman Catholic church. Here I learned about a fifth gospel called the Diatesseron which in fact exists and was an attempt around 100 AD to bring all of the traditional gospels together. All in all this was a somewhat interesting read though I don't understand why it is so popular.
19. Riptide - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This was a good book about a treasure hunt on Ragged Island off the coast of Maine. A ruthless pirate named Red Ned Ockham had plundered so many English and Spanish ships that he was loaded down with treasure and needed a place to hide it. On one of his exploits he captures a famous architect and forces him to design and construct a hiding place for the treasure that only Ockham could access. The architect knew his life was over once the treasure was in place so he added a few traps of his own meant to keep everyone including Ockham from ever retrieving the treasure. Over the years numerous ventures had tried to retrieve the treasure only to end in failure and death. So much so that the treasure and the island were considered cursed. Skip to the present day where Malin Hatch is now the owner of Ragged Island. He is approached by a treasure hunter with nearly unlimited resources who wants to try yet again to get the treasure. As this high tech attempt is progressing it becomes clear the genius the architect put into protecting the treasure but slowly progress is made and the Water Pit is cleared out and the treasure is located. At the same time people working on the dig start to get mysteriously ill and the computerized equipment put in place on the island gets flakier and flakier. The lead treasure hunter is now possessed with retrieving the treasure and throws all caution to the wind. He is getting sick as well but doesn't realize it. According to legend a famous sword is said to be part of the treasure which is the prize the treasure hunter most wants. A Noreaster blows up and the island is battered by the weather and cut off from the mainland. Hatch being a doctor finally determines the cause of the illnesses and the computer malfunctions is intense radiation and realizes that the treasure sword is the source as legend says it was forged from a meteor. When the treasure hunter opens the lead coffin the prize sword is encased in he seals his fate. When he tries to lift the sword's case out of the treasure trove, it triggers the architects final trap which cause the trove to cave into an enormous cavern beneath it. Hatch and a female archaeologist are the only ones to escape with their lives.

This is a different book for P & C as it doesn't have Pendergast and D'Agosta as the main characters. If I had just picked this book up I would not have known it was written by the same people. A good read for sure.
20. The Lost Island - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This is a first in a new series of books by P & C that I have not yet read. The main character is Gideon Crew, a physicist and master thief, who "procures" things for people both legally and illegally. Gideon  suffers from an incurable disease so his time is limited. In this story he is engaged by Eli Glinn to steal a page from the Book of Kells that is on display in a NY museum. After stealing the page Glinn and Crew discover the vellum on which the page is printed contains a treasure map from Greek times with the treasure being a miracle Lotus plant that can cure most everything. As the map is being deciphered Gideon is sent off to the Caribbean with a beautiful and talented Asian side kick Amy for what he thinks is going to be vacation like but boy was he wrong. Along the way they encounter treasure hunters who almost kill them and then they discover the Lotus Eater tribe which has the miracle plant but refuses to show them where it is found.  They escape from the Lotus Eaters who end up trying to kill them as well and travel to a strange island which has a Cyclops who has been living for hundreds of years as a result of consuming the plant. As it turns out the Cyclops is the last of his kind. Amy figures out that the Odyssey story is real, proven in part by the existence of the Cyclops, and that Odysseus after sacking Troy was blown across the Atantic by a huge storm to the island of the Lotus Eaters. Amy speaks ancient Greek to the Cyclops who seems to understand her confirming her theory. All hell breaks loose when Eli Glinn mounts a rescue party for Gideon and Amy and brings in soldiers to capture the Cyclops and to take the plant back to civilization for study and propagation. In the end the Cyclops goes crazy after being captured and kills almost everyone and starts a fire on the island which eventually consumes everything. Gideon, Amy, Eli and a few others manage to escape the fire but the Cyclops and the rest of the unique plant and animal life don't. They did manage to save a bit of the Lotus and scientists were able to propagate it. This story started out slow but really go going so I would say another score for P & C.
21. Gideon's Sword - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This is the first Gideon Crew story from P & C. I should have read it before the book above but oh well. This book establishes Gideon's connection with Eli Glinn. Glinn finds Gideon after Gideon finally proves a general was responsible for a bad encryption algorithm (whos deployment led to the death of many US agents) that his father was blamed for and killed over. Glinn wants Gideon to intercept a Chinese scientist who is supposedly carrying an all powerful weapon and is coming to the US. They don't know what the scientists motives are or whether he is coming to defect or not. Turns out he was carrying a strand of room temperature super conducting wire embedded in his leg that he was going to release to the world through the Falun Gong organization. The Chinese send an assassin to prevent him from doing so and the scientist is subsequently killed in a massive car wreak. Gideon finds out he is terminally ill and so accepts Glinn's proposal to carry out the assignment for a large wad of cash. Gideon pieces together a bunch of small clues as to what is really going on and finally gets the super conductor wire. In the mean time everyone who helped Gideon is killed by the assassin. In the end its Gideon vs the assassin and Gideon finally triumphs. This was not that good of a story or at least it didn't keep me as riveted as most other P & C stories have.
22. Fever Dream - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - 12 years ago when Agent Pendergast and his wife Helen were on safari in Africa Helen was supposedly killed by a lion. Pendergast accepted this tragedy until he finds that Helen's gun was loaded with blanks so her death wasn't accidental, it was murder. In his quest to find who murdered her, he finds information about his wife that he never knew. If fact he questions whether he ever knew his wife at all as her mysterious past unfolds. He finds his wife had stolen rare parrot specimens from a museum and was on the hunt for a rare Audubon painting called the Black Frame. As the story unfolds he finds that Helen had discovered a form of flu virus (that was carried by a parrot) that first makes a person extremely talented and then over time makes them crazy. She approached a drug company with her findings and that is when things got out of hand. The drug companies R & D facility mysteriously burns to the ground and every one who was involved with the research gets murdered and the drug company's top executives either die in the fire or commit suicide. Pendergast finally figures out that Helen's brother Judson is responsible for the killings and that he wants Pendergast dead as well as he has uncovered a bunch of secrets that were better left buried. The book ends with Judson and Pendergast being aware of each others motives and an invitation from Judson to go hunting in Scotland.
23. Cold Vengeance - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This book continues where the previous book left off with Judson and Pendergast going off on a hunting holiday in the highlands of Scotland. When Judson and Pendergast go off hunting Judson gets the advantage and shoots Pendergast through the chest and leaves him to die and sinking into a bog. As Judson's last gesture he tells Pendergast that Helen isn't dead and that she is still alive. Judson then returns to the hunting lodge and admits to killing Perdergast by accident. The police are called in and the bog where Judson shot Pendergast is dredged but no body is found. Judson goes from elation that Pendergast is finally dead and the deep secrets can remain hidden to completely paranoid that Pendergast might still be alive and will have Judson in his sights. As the story continues we find that Judson is working for a group of powerful German expats, called the Covenant, who are still doing human genetics experiments and they are killing off just about everyone Pendergast has consulted with in trying to track Helen's where abouts. The struggle between Pendergast and Judson moves back to the US where Judson kidnaps Constance Green (Pendergast's ward) to use as bait to bring Pendergast out into the open so he can be killed. The story reaches it peak when Pendergast boards a yacht in NY harbor where Constance is being held. Pendergast manages to pick off a few of the henchmen but is finally captured when Constance is thrown overboard and he must surrender to save her. Just before Pendergast and Constance are to be killed Judson realizes that he will be next because of the trouble he has caused the Covenant so he kills the remaining thugs on the boat and Judson, Pendergast and Constance Green escape. Judson gets Pendergast's cooperation by promising to bring Helen to him in Central Park. When the meeting finally happens Pendergast is overwhelmed with emotion that Helen is still alive but things turn bad quickly as just about everyone in the park is carrying weapons and try to kill Judson and Perdergast who are both shot. Helen is then kidnapped again by the Covenant.
24. Reliquary - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This was the follow on to Relic which I read earlier. This story has many of the same characters including Pendergast, D'Agosta, Smithback and Margo Green. This is a story of the people that live in the vast tunnel network under New York City, which is in fact true. When the Mbwun was killed off in Relic, New Yorker's thought they had heard the last of this story but when bodies started turning up with their heads missing Pendergast knew better. In Relic we learned that artifacts from South America were shipped to the US that were cushioned with a plant material that sustained the Mbwun beast and when the supply of this plant was exhausted the beasts started eating peoples brains as a substitute. One of the scientists from Relic started investigating the properties of the plant and started refining it into a new drug called glaze which he sold to finance his research. He understood the plant had great restorative powers as well as dark physiological properties effectively turning the user into a lizard like creature.  Druggies from the NY underground bought this drug because of the rush it provided but soon became monsters roaming the tunnels in great numbers. When the police and the FBI were finally convinced that these creatures were beyond help they hatched a plan to flood the lowest levels of the tunnel where these creature lived hence killing them all at once. Before doing that, they had to clear the tunnels of the homeless so as not to kill people who still had a chance. Pendergast and company had to repeatedly enter the lowest levels of the tunnels for reconnaissance and hence came face to face with the monsters within. In the final showdown, the good guys figure out the monsters are being lead by Dr. Frock, a member of their own team, who has himself used the drug to enable him to walk for the first time in his life. Of course the plan to flood the tunnels goes wrong and Pendergast has to act to prevent the drug from being release into the ocean's food chain doing who knows what to the food supply. This again was a compelling read that was hard to put down. 
25. The Wheel of Darkness - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - This story was about a stolen Tibetan artifact called the Agozyen which was taken from a monastery where it had been hidden and protected for thousands of years. The monks who protected it had never opened the box the artifact was stored in because they feared great evil.  They also could not destroy it because of the part they knew it would play in the future. Pendergast and Constance  Greene traveled to the monastery to continue their training in ancient meditative arts when they was summoned by the high llama and told of the theft. They immediately leave the monastery to find the thief who they later found dead and also to find the artifact was again stolen.  Tracking the killer, they booked a cruse on a brand new ocean liner called the Britannia as the killer was also on board. The killer, a collector of Tibetan art, opened the Agozyen and his mind was immediately taken over by the evil power of the mandala it contained. As the artifact was seen by multiple people they to became evil and murders began all over the ship causing the passenger to panic. A power struggle ensued and the ships captain was relieved of duty and the second in command (who had also seen the relic) took possession of the ship and became determined to crash it onto rocks in the middle of the Atlantic. Pendergast also saw the relic and became obsessed  with saving only his and Constance's lives which proved to Constance that he to was under the influence of the Agozyen. A battle for Pendergast's soul took place which he barely won and he used the power of the relic to stop the new captain from destroying the ship. The killer was killed by the power of the Agozyen so Pendergast carefully took possession of it and returned it to the monastery. Pendergast realized one of the monks protecting the artifact must have assisted with the original theft and when he brought this to the attention of the head llama he was told they knew this and the reason they let the artifact be stolen because according to their beliefs whoever brought it back would be the reincarnation of their beloved rinpoche who had just died.  Come to find out Constance was pregnant (by way of Pendergast's brother) and she may be carrying the reincarnated llama. This story contained a lot of mystical elements which made it different than the other mostly factual based storied P & C usually write and which I think I like better.
26. Lost Horizon - James Hilton - I wanted to read this book because I have never seen the end of the movie and I wanted to know the whole story. The cover claims that this was the first paper back ever published (1933) which makes it feel special somehow. You already know the story about a kidnapped group of people who are flown into Tibet and are rescued from their plane crash by monks in a secret valley. The magic and mysticism they find in Shangri-La  where everyone lives very long lives seems like a true paradise. I now know why I never knew the end of this story because it ends rather abruptly in the book. Conway stumbles out of the mountains with a Chinese woman, old beyond old, and ends up in a hospital with his memory impaired but as it returns dictates the story to an adventure book writer who tries to corroborate it with very little luck. This is a classic story that everyone should read at some point.
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