Sunday, September 8, 2019

Old Bones by Preston & Child

This is just the kind of story I love to dive into, and even though it was my first Preston & Child novel, it won't be my last. 

First of all, bless Grand Central Publishing for taking the time to list all of Preston & Child's novels by series! Makes reading their previous works much easier. I wish every publisher did this for prolific authors. Old Bones is another new series, with characters from previous novels, but this is the first in the Nora Kelly series. I can't wait to read more. 

This novel involves the mystery of the Donner Party, and the Lost Camp. After the Donner party became lost and stuck in the Sierra Nevada area in the winter of 1847, they became part of western legend and lore. Very few people survived the months long ordeal as they starved, survived blizzard after blizzard, and some resorting to cannibalism to survive. The party was broken up into three camps, each a distance away from each other. One camp, known as the Lost Camp, remained  undiscovered over a hundred and fifty years later. 

Archaeologist Nora Kelly is called in to lead an expedition up into the wilds of the Sierra Nevadas to attempt to discover the "Lost Camp". Traveling with Nora is Dr. Clive Benton, a historian (and descendant of one of the Donner party families) who has discovered Tamzene Donner's long lost diary, which describes the location of the lost camp. Finding this lost camp, and the remains of the people who died there, would be a huge historical find, and answer a lot of questions. There is also a big chance that twenty million dollars in gold coins is also somewhere in the camp, stolen from one of the Donner party men, who was murdered by two men who died at the lost camp. 

Another interesting addition to this story involves FBI Agent Corrie Swanson. Just learning her job, she's assigned to a simple case: investigating the murder of a man found in a recently disturbed grave. Doesn't seem like it would have anything to do with the Donner lost camp, but oh, it does. It seems that someone has been digging up graves and making off with parts of the remains. Corrie makes a connection between seemingly random events, but no one believes her--it's rookie enthusiasm, after all. 

Yet, there is a big link to these two big events, and that is what is most fascinating about this novel. I seriously couldn't put it down. The blend of archaeology, legend, lore, and history hooked me good. I've always been interested in the Donner tragedy and have read a lot of books about it. That's what  drew me to this novel, too. I wasn't disappointed. It was a heck of a good read, and a great introduction to Preston & Child novels. 

I've had friends tell me how much they enjoy Preston & Child novels, and now I know why. I'll be working my way through all of them, and looking forward to the next Nora Kelly novel. I liked both Nora and Corrie--two strong women,  navigating through the politics and machinations of their chosen fields. Both experts in what they do, they make a great team. Did I say I loved this novel?! I sure did! Fans of historical mysteries, anthropology, archaeology, and police procedurals will enjoy this one. I'm a fan of Ellie Griffith's Ruth Galloway mysteries, which also feature historical mysteries and forensic archaeology. I'm excited to have found another series with all the elements I enjoy. 

I know I read a lot of magical realism, foodie, and contemporary women's novels, but oh, the nerdy history and forensics girl in me loves this type of novel, too. 

Rating: 5/6 for a thriller that combines history, action, adventure, archaeology, forensics, and a race against time. The Donner Party tragedy continues to echo down through the years. It's never too late to bring peace to those who died tragically in the most horrible of circumstances. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 


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