THE PHARAOH KEY by Douglas Preston
Kirkus Star

THE PHARAOH KEY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Doomed by a fatal illness, Gideon Crew embarks on one wild, series-ending adventure (Beyond the Ice Limit, 2016, etc.).

Crew has AVM, a brain malformation that will kill him in about two months, although he’ll feel fine until his sudden death. He and his engineer colleague Manuel Garza lose their jobs with no warning when their employer, Effective Engineering Solutions, suddenly stops paying them and shuts down without a word of explanation. While they're cleaning out their desks, they discover that a computer in the office has just finished a calculation that it's been working on for 43,000 hours—almost five years. Garza sticks a USB drive in the computer and downloads the information, which is about a secret project to decipher the ancient Phaistos Disk. Garza proposes that they find whatever treasure it may lead to and sell it “for the most dough we possibly can,” no matter what it turns out to be, even if it’s a “fucking centerfold of the Mona Lisa.” So they trek to the desolate Hala’ib Triangle in southeastern Egypt, a journey involving one blasted thing after another. They ride an ancient ferry that sinks on the Red Sea, drowning hundreds. A woman outbids Crew and Garza when they try to rent camels, their guide cheats them, and they nearly die of thirst in the desert, where they try to survive a haboob—“the worst kind of dust storm”—and find a “mist oasis.” The pace never slackens as they get closer to the GPS coordinates they’re looking for, and they have an encounter that changes everything. Crew’s legerdemain and Garza’s nifty engineering skills get them out of serious jams but may not save them from the one-eyed leopard or the fearsome warrior who is determined to fight Garza to the death. Through all of this, Crew faces the ultimate clock, the one ticking inside his brain. This is a cleverly plotted yarn with some laugh-out-loud twists, the best ones involving Garza’s bravery and ingenuity. There are numerous references to earlier books in the series, and fans might like to read Beyond the Ice Limit first. Still, this book stands alone just fine.

When the end of a book with a dying hero makes the reader laugh, that’s a neat trick. This is a great cap on the series.

Pub Date: June 12th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2582-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2018




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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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