Thunderhead is the first archaeological mystery novel featuring Nora Kelly. Authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child aka Lincoln & Child mix their taste for the mystical with a strong story about an archaeological search and discovery. Thunderhead is definitely a page turner.

Associate Professor of archaeology Nora Kelly receives a sixteen-year-old letter from her long lost father. In it, he claims he has found the mythical city of the Anasazi tribe. Kelly talks a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab to look at the information her father left in his letter and use satellite imagery to find the road to the mythical city. She then convinces her boss, famed archaeologist Ernest Goddard to fund an expedition. His caveat is that his daughter join Nora Kelly’s team.

At the same time, strange man creatures try to steal the letter from Nora Kelly to prevent her from using the information in it to find the lost city of the Anasazi. These strange man creatures are the foundation for the more mystical aspect of Thunderhead.

The mythical city is found but it is not at all what Nora Kelly and her team expected it to be. It is both much more and much worse. Conflicts arise between members of the archeaological team as to what to do with the discovery. Some treachery puts the lives of team members at risk. There are final confrontations both with the mystical man creatures and with members of the team.

It takes a while for the narrative rhythm of the story to get underway and some readers might grow impatient at the time it takes Lincoln & Child to get Nora Kelly to the city of the Anasazi. This is a minor quibble though as Thunderhead does move at a good clip and the last quarter of this archaeological mystery novel moves at breakneck speed.

I was less convinced by the somewhat Hollywood ending regarding the closure Nora Kelly and her brother get regarding her late father but that is just me.

The Nora Kelly mystery novels by Lincoln and Child are not as solid reading as their Agent Pendergast series but they, and this one in particular, are quite fascinating and easy to get caught up in.

Lincoln & Child
A Nora Kelly mystery
Grand Central Publishing 2000

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