THE CODEX by Douglas Preston


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Preston usually coauthors with Lincoln Child (Thunderhead, 1999, etc.) but this time solos.

Though still into stirring adventures in archaeology, Preston by himself is marginally less of a stylist than when cleaning up paragraphs with Child. Also missing is the mysterious FBI agent known only as Pendergast, whom many fans have come to love. The unlikely premise here is that a billionaire art collector and tomb raider, disappointed in his three sons, decides to take his art collection with him into the grave, much as ancient emperors and pharaohs were buried with their costliest possessions. He calls his scattered sons to his mansion, which they find to be emptied of its half-billion-dollar collection. Instead, a videotape by Maxwell Broadbent, their father, explains what he’s done but says that they can rob his tomb and have the treasure if they can find it somewhere on the planet. But they will find it only if they work together. The potentially priciest missing treasure is the Maltese Fal . . . or, rather, the Mayan Codex, an original medical library in one volume reflecting endless years of Mayan research into medicines from herbs, barks, insects, etc. Fully a quarter of all medicines manufactured today have their basis in just such research, and a cure for cancer and many other diseases may well be in the codex. The three sons, Philip, Vernon and Tom, don’t seem all that bad, although they’ve become a religious recluse, an animal vet, and an art historian, vocations inferior to the higher aims Maxwell expected of them. As it happens, although all three sons decide to split up, they nonetheless find themselves gathered together in Honduras, looking for Dad’s tomb. Also on hand is an investigator they know nothing about but who has been hired by a failing pharmaceuticals company to come back with the codex whatever the cost. Then the sons discover they have still another brother in the rainforest, who has filed teeth and wears tattoos.

A fun dig with just a touch of Indiana Jones.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2004
ISBN: 0-765-30700-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2003

Kirkus Interview
Douglas Preston
January 2, 2017

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God—but then committed suicide without revealing its location. Three quarters of a century later, bestseller Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story is his account of the expedition. “A story that moves from thrilling to sobering, fascinating to downright scary—trademark Preston, in other words, and another winner,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >


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