Monday, September 18, 2023

September Read: Dead Mountain by Preston & Child


I've come to anticipate the newest novel in the Nora Kelly series by Preston and Child; mostly because they take place in New Mexico. I visited New Mexico many times when my brother and sis-in-law lived there, and it holds a special place in my heart. There's nothing like it. So it's easy for me to picture the mountains and the landscape while I'm reading this series. 

You can read each book as a standalone, but it does make it a little bit easier if you read them in order. This is number four, featuring FBI agent Corrie Swanson and renowned archaeologist Nora Kelly.

Two men driving in the mountains get lost in a snow storm. Abandoning their vehicle, they find a cave to wait out the storm, drinking booze to stay warm and smoking joints to stay calm. Imagine their fright when they discover a skull sticking out of the ground. Rescued soon after, the FBI are alerted to the possibility of a murder and are called to investigate. 

What they find is two-fold: not only do they find a rare burial site of a local Native American tribe from centuries before; they also find the more recent desiccated remains of two men--could they possibly be two of the missing Dead Mountain hikers from 2008?

In 2008, nine college students with plenty of mountain hiking experience set off on an adventure. They were never seen alive again. Instead, when a search party was sent out, they found a bizarre scene: a ripped open tent, along with the bodies of some of the hikers--unclothed and obviously dead from exposure in a brutal blizzard. The next spring, they find two more, crushed and missing eyes down near a creek. Now it's been fifteen years, and there are still members missing. 

Corrie is lead investigator, along with FBI Agent Sharp, her new partner. There was an intensive investigation done fifteen years before, but nothing ever came of it--except the retirement and disgrace of the agent in charge. Why? What happened to the hikers? Theories abound: Yeti, aliens, genetic superhuman attacking the camp. It's all out there, and it's up to Corrie with the help of Nora to piece it all together. 

People are reluctant to talk, and the more Corrie shifts through the evidence and probes deeper, the more questions she can't answer. Conspiracy theories, government agencies, bitter parents, and lots of dead ends create a plot that keeps shifting until the exciting end. 

This was another excellent thriller from Preston & Child. They wrote this novel based on the infamous case of nine Russian cross-country skiers who died in 1959 in the Ural Mountains under very, very strange circumstances. I've read about this case, and it is truly bizarre, and still unsolved to this day. I'm happy the story they created has a solution, and the twisty road to it makes this novel a fascinating read. 

Rating: 4/6 for a clever, complex, and twisty plot that features man vs. nature, man vs. self, and of course man vs. government. Enjoyed this very much!

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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