This first volume of a new fantasy series sees a renowned scientist looking into the mysterious death of his archaeologist uncle.
After earning a fortune in the biochemical industry, 42-year-old Anlon Cully is enjoying early retirement on Lake Tahoe, where he spends his days on his yacht and his nights at a local watering hole. There, he’s developed a close friendship with an edgy, young bartender, Eleanor Marie “Pebbles” McCarver. When Anlon’s uncle, the famed archaeologist Devlin Wilson, dies while hiking in the mountains, Anlon travels to Devlin’s home in upstate New York to take care of his affairs. However, Devlin’s colleague Matthew Dobson is convinced that Devlin’s death wasn’t a tragic accident, but murder. When Dobson is also found dead, local detective Jennifer Stevens brings Anlon in for questioning. Anlon soon summons Pebbles to his side, and they dig deep into Devlin’s controversial research regarding a set of artifacts known as the Life Stones. Each of the stones possesses different powers, and they provide evidence that ancient civilizations were actually far more technologically advanced than we are today. It turns out that there are other people who will do whatever it takes to obtain these legendary objects. Anlon, Pebbles, and Jennifer must figure out which of these various nefarious characters is responsible for Devlin’s death, even as Anlon becomes their next target. Debut author Donoghue ably creates three very distinct protagonists in Anlon, Pebbles, and Jennifer. However, the repeated mentions of Pebbles’ stunning looks, and her ability to eat epic amounts of food while remaining supermodel slim, grow tiring. Jennifer’s sharp tongue, quick thinking, and fearless behavior, though, will make her a reader favorite. The archaeology-driven mystery, while difficult to unravel at times, will appeal in equal measures to fans of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels and History’s theory-filled Ancient Aliens TV series. Donoghue leaves enough loose ends hanging to make readers feel compelled to pick up the next volume.
This novel, packed with action, intrigue, sexual chemistry, and a lot of archaeological research, gets its series off to a promising start.