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.