Old Bones by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Old Bones by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Publisher: Head Of Zeus Ltd
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Nora Kelly, a young curator at the Santa Fe Institute of Archaeology, is approached by historian Clive Benton with a once-in-a-lifetime proposal: to lead a team in search of the so-called “Lost Camp” of the tragic Donner Party. This was a group of pioneers who earned a terrible place in American history when they became snow-bound in the California mountains in 1847, their fate unknown until the first skeletonized survivors stumbled out of the wilderness, raving about starvation, murder-and cannibalism.

Benton tells Kelly he has stumbled upon an amazing find: the long-sought diary of one of the victims, which has an enigmatic description of the Lost Camp. Nora agrees to lead an expedition to locate and excavate it-to reveal its long-buried secrets.

Once in the mountains, however, they learn that discovering the camp is only the first step in a mounting journey of fear. For as they uncover old bones, they expose the real truth of what happened, one that is far more shocking and bizarre than mere cannibalism. And when those ancient horrors lead to present-day violence on a grand scale, rookie FBI agent Corrie Swanson is assigned the case…only to find that her first investigation might very well be her last.

Corrie Swanson is a newly minted Special Agent. Eager to move forward from re-visiting cold cases, she is undeterred when her first case is the murder of a low-level criminal hired to dig up a long-interred grave. Corrie finds a number of circumstantial links to other similar cases and a tenuous link to one common ancestor – Albert Parkin. Parkin was one of those who died on the infamous Donner Party and Dr. Nora Kelly has just begun a search and excavation of the Lost Camp, the third and final resting place of that long ago Party. Past and present collide as Nora and Corrie discover long-buried secrets.

I have been a huge Preston & Child fan for many years, but I really especially enjoyed this book. I have a particular soft spot for Corrie’s character and she’s hands down one of my favourites. I also really enjoy Nora and am pretty much guaranteed to read anything related to these two – together or apart. That said I feel this is the perfect entry-way book for a number of reasons. Readers who have never read anything by Preston & Child can easily pick this up and enjoy it. This is the first book featuring Nora and Corrie and thus has no real connotation of back story or previous installments. The book very carefully explains how both Nora and Corrie end up at the same place – the Lost Camp of the Donner Party – and what they’re looking for. This is easily a book that can be picked up just by itself and thoroughly enjoyed on its own merits.

I loved the plotline – two seemingly separate stories that slowly wind together until it’s clear they’re both a part of the same whole. And I really enjoyed how both Nora and Corrie were two quite different characters and each coming from different positions yet could try to find some common ground and learn to respect each other. The whole story – both their characters and the plotlines – felt natural and well woven, and most importantly of all enjoyable. Add in there were a bunch of elements that just always make a good story – hidden gold, the history behind a failed journey, cannibalism and archaeology along with modern day grave robbing and murder. What on earth is not to like?

This is a fun book which I found to be a lovely blend of mystery, adventure and high stakes this is an exceptional book and well worth the time. I can’t wait for the next one.

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