Mayas and tigers and bears, oh my.
If you like your Mesoamerican archaeology larded with lashings of ham-fisted dramatics, then this is just the book for you. Kuzneski’s setup is promising: ace detectives/adventurers Jonathon Payne and David Jones (The Secret Crown, 2012, etc.) go tearing off looking for a missing team of archaeologists who just might have found something that the guys who are secretly in charge of the world might not have wanted them to find. The clues begin pointing back not to Chichen Itza but to Langley. Payne and Jones are masters of exposition, providing index cards full of information in between spasms of dialogue and the occasional chase, but they’ve got competition in some of the antiquity geeks with whom they consult. Gushes one, “Did you say the Maya? I love the Maya. They’re one of my ten favorite civilizations of all time.” With a fan club like that, it’s sad that the Maya collapsed—especially since they had cool stuff such as the Death Relic, which is not to be confused with the Death God. Or maybe it is, for as we chug toward the end of this endless yarn, we learn that “the difference between the Death God and the Death Relic is this necklace of bones.” Cue lecture. Cue encyclopedia notes. Cue discovery: “[X] stole the treasure? That’s awesome!” We won’t spoil the fun by revealing X’s identity, but suffice it to say that it doesn’t seem so awesome to us.
An archaeological adventure yarn with just not enough adventure to it.