The Scorpion's Tail
From #1 bestselling authors Preston & Child comes a thrilling novel following archaeologist Nora Kelly and FBI Agent Corrie Swanson as they work together to solve a twisted crime that reaches far beyond any of their worst fears.
Following the acclaimed debut of Old Bones, this second "happily anticipated" new thriller in Preston & Child's series features Nora Kelly, archaeologist at the Santa Fe Archeological Institute, and rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson, as they team up to solve a mystery that quickly escalates into nightmare (Booklist).
A mummified corpse, over half a century old, is found in the cellar of an abandoned building in a remote New Mexico ghost town. Corrie is assigned what seems to her a throwaway case: to ID the body and determine cause of death. She brings archaeologist Nora Kelly to excavate the body and lend her expertise to the investigation, and together they uncover something unexpected and shocking: the deceased apparently died in agony, in a fetal position, skin coming off in sheets, with a rictus of horror frozen on his face.
Hidden on the corpse lies a 16th century Spanish gold cross of immense value.
When they at last identify the body -- and the bizarre cause of death -- Corrie and Nora open a door into a terrifying, secret world of ancient treasure and modern obsession: a world centered on arguably the most defining, frightening, and transformative moment in American history.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
When we started this gripping thriller, we had no idea what the FBI, the first atomic-bomb tests, and a lost Spanish treasure all had to do with each other—but we couldn’t wait to find out. Forensic anthropologist Corrie Swanson and archeologist Dr. Nora Kelly are brought in to investigate the case of a body dug up on federal land in the New Mexico mountains. The long-dormant mystery immediately takes a dangerous left turn—straight into the territory of military secrets and priceless ancient artifacts. Book two in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s riveting Nora Kelly series evokes the unique atmosphere of the American Southwest, capturing the region’s prehistoric and postatomic vibes and the high desert sun. A fun change of pace from the best-selling duo’s Agent Pendergast thrillers, The Scorpion’s Tail is an exciting modern mystery that can only be solved by traveling far into the past.
Bestsellers Preston and Child's enjoyable sequel to 2019's Old Bones takes FBI special agent Corrie Swanson, who studied forensic anthropology, to New Mexico after a mummified male corpse is found in a ghost town on federal land and a trespasser shot at the sheriff investigating the scene. When Swanson arrives, she decides to ask Nora Kelly, a senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, for help unearthing the remains, which are in an unusual fetal position, so that any evidence of the man's death having been caused by foul play remains intact. Kelly reluctantly agrees to assist, and finds a solid gold, jewel-encrusted cross on the body, dating to the Spanish colonial period. That discovery suggests a connection between the dead man, who appears to have perished in the 1940s, and recurrent legends of a treasure trove of riches hidden somewhere in the area. The authors do their usual solid job of maintaining suspense throughout. Their two capable female leads are well-suited to sustain a long series.
Not the best
For a book labelled A Nora Kelly novel, Nora Kelly does not appear until halfway through the novel. And then in a limited way until we get towards the end. This is a rather poor sell of the book.
Also, the authors are starting to slip. The premise is interesting. But the treatment is generic. Standard action, not much suspense or mystery. The authors early books were taut and tense. Their latest books are not well written.
Hopefully there is a Pendergast in the future.