Cussler (The Tombs, 2012, etc.) drops treasure-hunting Sam and Remi Fargo into Mayan mysteries.
Having found Attila’s tomb, the Fargos are spending a vacation on Mexico's Pacific coast assisting in a marine biology project. News arrives from Tapachula, Mexico, of an earthquake. Loading their chartered yacht with supplies and physicians, the deep-pocketed, charitable Fargos sail to help. Stopping at damaged coastal villages, they hear of isolated indigenous people near Volcán Tacaná. They organize a relief party. In midtrek, Sam stumbles upon a Mayan tomb uncovered by the earthquake. In it, there’s a mummified aristocrat and an urn containing a Mayan codex. Only four other Mayan codices exist, treasures of mathematical treatises, astronomical observations and histories. This one had been secreted in 1537 with the help of Dominican Friar de Las Casas, a singular codex "worth a hundred" of any other. Fearing looters, the Fargos rationalize smuggling the codex to San Diego. In pursuit comes Sarah Allersby, a "beautiful, rich, uninhibited, flamboyant" Englishwoman and Guatemalan landowner. After validation by experts, the Fargos test the codex’s map’s accuracy by locating a previously unknown Mayan site. Gunfights ensue. Underwater escapes are made. Cussler’s tale is supported by historical and geographical factoids, cutting-edge tech gear and Tracy-Hepburn banter. Allersby next purloins the codex, but the Fargos jet to Spain to uncover a previously unknown copy secreted in de Las Casas’ papers. Later, in Guatemala, the Fargos clash twice more with Allersby, her violent minions, her drug-smuggling allies and villagers guarding an ancient Mayan redoubt. Chapters are short, cinematic and blinged-out with regular mention of the right stuff: Maybach sedans; linen tablecloths and Wedgewood china; Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana; and exotic foodstuffs polished off with Argentine Malbec. The relatively lightweight adventure ends in a shoot-'em-up after Sam calls on Apache attack helicopter–equipped compatriots from his former CIA-like, top-secret, quasi-military organization.
Cussler connoisseurs will approve. Others can enjoy it as a stand-alone adventure.