Tag Archives: Douglas Preston

Review- The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story- by Douglas Preston 

(By: Steve Michaels- Denver, Co. 12/26/16)

   Nonfiction offers its own unique reading experience as opposed to most fiction. Whereas a fiction story is carried by the author’s ability to weave a compelling narrative and pepper it with enough facts and details to make it interesting and believable, a nonfiction writer has to do just the opposite. Armed with as many facts, data, personal accounts, and other bits of information that their research provides, the writer has to compile these in a way that doesn’t sound as if they are writing an encyclopedia article, or a school textbook (unless, of course, that is their goal. I’m specifically talking about nonfiction that is written more for entertainment, as opposed to something written as a clinical or educational piece).

   The Lost City of the Monkey God, also known as The White City, has been a staple of Honduran folklore for generations. This city was said to be a place of refuge and a storehouse of treasures for the indigenous peoples during the time of the Spanish conquest of the area. There are rumors of a deadly curse that guards the area, one whose existence is bolstered by strange happenings and often inexplicable occurrences surrounding those that have gone to look for the lost city.

  Undeterred by this, in 2012 author Douglas Preston joined an expedition to the rain forest of southern Honduras to map areas of interest using a relatively new application of a laser imaging technology called Lidar, which bounces 100,000 individual laser pulses per second off an object and records distance in a way much like radar does with sound. It can be used to penetrate gaps in dense foliage to model a map of what’s below. This generated map offered sufficient evidence for the mounting of a second expedition in 2015, which Preston also joined. This time they were headed in on the ground, with the hopes of using the aerial maps to ‘ground truth’ their findings. Preston details his journeys in his gripping newest release “The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story”.

   Preston’s background as a writer for such publications as National Geographic, Smithsonian, and the New Yorker, mixed with his prowess as an engaging bestselling author of page turning thrillers makes for an extremely informative yet harrowingly engrossing read. In a narrative that feels like an excerpt from the adventures of Indiana Jones, Preston chronicles the expedition as they deal with corrupt governments, drug cartels, jungle animals, the unforgiving environment, parasitic diseases, and pretty much any other staple of hellish condition known to man. 

   The motley crew that comprises the expedition make up one of the most eclectic group ever brought to page, in fiction or nonfiction. Preston does an amazing job of bringing their personal motivations and drive to bare, as well as each of their diverse personalities. A personal favorite was the foul mouthed, corpulent, murdering, drug smuggler named Bruce Heinicke. Let’s just say that if it had been him that Greedo had cornered in the Mos Eisley Cantina, well, there would be no question as to who shot first.

   Time spent in the jungle and the repercussions of gave Preston ample motivation for rumination. While reflecting on the lessons to be learned from the past, Preston looks into our future as a species and how our actions as a society can and will affect us on a global scale; culturally, socially, and environmentally, as evidenced by the example of the echoes of past civilizations that lie buried and forgotten.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story is available everywhere 1/3/2017

 

  Very special thanks to Caitlin at Hachette Book Group and Grand Central Publishing for the advance copy!

   

Review: The Obsidian Chamber, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

(Note: While I shall do my best to avoid spoilers of any sort, I feel the need to mention that The Obsidian Chamber is NOT a stand alone novel. It is actually the sequel of all sequels, not only picking up directly where 2015’s Crimson Shore left off, but also the continuing of a much larger story arc that began back in the early 2000’s. My suggestion is, if you are caught up on the Pendergast series to date, then by all means read on. If not, well, put down your phone, your tablet, or whatever other device you are reading this on and head down to your local book store. You have some homework to do!)

I’ve been a follower of Preston and Child since their first novel, Relic, back in ’95. Having read every one of their books since, I found The Obsidian Chamber to be unique on a number of levels.

One of the biggest problems with creating a series such as the Pendergast one that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have is, no matter what happens to your centric character, as an audience we know that they will triumph. Like I said in my preamble, The Obsidian Chamber is a direct sequel to Crimson Shore, the ending of which left our beloved FBI agent presumed dead. Instead, though, of quickly addressing the elephant in the room of how Pendergast returns, the authors step outside of their norm and evoke something akin to a Walking Dead ‘Glen Dumpster Plot Device’.

Whereas most times a deferment of plot progression can be angering, I found Preston & Child’s use of the stall to be a refreshing respite. It allowed not only a large amount of focused development to happen with a usually satellite character, it also fleshed out the novel to a more satisfying length.

Once our favorite detective was back in play, the writing style continued to have a different flavor than usual about it. For one, there seems to me to be far more glimpses into Pendergast’s personal relationships than usual. Of particular interest was seeing certain interactions between himself and another character that he considers one of his contemporaries. We are so very used to seeing Pendergast as an almost Holmes-esque, nearly omnipotent character. Sure, we’ve seen him at his lowest points; broken, out matched, wounded, and hopeless. Whenever he is working a case, however, he is the alpha. Seeing dynamics where he is reciprocating mutual respect? Well, that’s a refreshing new angle.

The Obsidian Chamber winds up in a place where many loose ends that have been floating around in the series find themselves stitched back in. I think that’s what the objective of the novel was; to tell a story that resulted in the right amount of closure. It seemed to me to be, to use a television term, a season finale of sorts. As I read the last sentences I felt a sense of surcease, the type that now leaves the door open to forge back into new territories, ones of less grandiose of a scale. That’s not to say that the events of The Obsidian Chamber won’t be expounded on soon. I guess we’ll have to wait another year to find out!

The Obsidian Chamber is available tomorrow, 10/18/16, everywhere books are sold

More about the authors: www.prestonchild.com

Very special thanks to Shelby at Grand Central Publishing for the advanced copy!

Review: Beyond the Ice Limit

   I finally finished Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s newest offering, ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’, the existence of which, as far as I know, was initially confirmed in an interview that I did with the authors a few years ago regarding their novel ‘White Fire’. 

   ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’, while a double sequel (in that it is not only a direct sequel to 2001’s ‘The Ice Limit’, but also holds the title as the newest entry in their ongoing ‘Gideon Crew’ series), does an amazing job setting itself as a standalone read. Knowing the backstories of the characters would definitely help make a faster bond with them, but overall the book does a good job of making those connections independently. 

   As always, Preston and Child craft a story that touches on multiple genres, without feeling confused about itself. ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’ captures the mood of the most Crichtonesq scifi-techno-thrillers, while weaving in details that echo the most clinical of Robin Cook novels, doing all this in an environment that could very happily reside on pages penned by Tom Clancy.    

   If you’re into action, adventure, excitement, or anything else that a Jedi doesn’t crave, then snag a copy of ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’ wherever books or ebooks are sold. If you’re too cheap for that, support your local library and find a copy there!

   

‘Pendergast’ Novels Finally Making Their Way to the Screen 

Honestly, this is some of the most exciting news that I’ve read in a very, very long time.

The Hollywood Reporter just posted an exclusive that The Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd has been hired by Spike TV to adapt Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s best-selling book series in to a scripted series, to be written by John McLaughlin (Black Swan), who along with Hurd will Executive Produce the series.

The show is set to be titled, Pendergast, and season one is reported to follow the titular Special Agent of the FBI, as he investigates a present-day crime that mimics a century-old mystery. The plot sounds very akin to that of Preston & Child’s ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, which started a continuing story arc that has spanned over 14 years and 13 novels.

Preston & Child’s first novel, Relic, was adapted for the big screen back in 1997 and garnished mixed to negative reviews. Special Agent Pendergast made his first appearance in the novel version, but his part was cut from the film, a mistake that this new series can hopefully rectify. Paramount, the film’s distributor, has held the rights to the character since the 90’s, and still do, so they will also be working with Hurd and Spike TV on the project.

Personally, having been a huge fan of the series since the beginning, I see a huge opportunity for a series here. The film version of The Relic did the novel no justice, and it’s about time that these characters were given a proper chance to shine. The existing stories have been well written, and lend themselves perfectly to the pacing of a television series. My biggest hope is that the producers collaborate with Preston & Child when doing the writing. The last few years have seen a number of successful adaptations, including Game of Thrones and Hurd’s own project, The Walking Dead. Both of these series worked very closely with the creators of the characters, and while there have been departures from the original stories, they have both maintained a compelling story that stays true to the original concept.

There’s no word yet on a projected release date, but you can be sure that I’ll pass on any information that I find! In the meantime, head over to http://www.prestonchild.com/ and get caught up on the novels before the series hits!

 

Update: Douglas Preston has confirmed his and Lincoln Child’s involvement via their facebook account!

Book Review: The Lost Island- A Gideon Crew Novel

There are two things that a novel needs to do to maintain my interest. First, it needs to make me think. Secondly, it needs to make me feel. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s newest thriller, “The Lost Island”, delivers on both counts.

Preston & Child’s latest release hits all the high points of its equivalent, the summer blockbuster movie. With equal parts action, intrigue, suspense, romance, and wonder, the story maintains a breakneck pace without ever feeling like it is tripping over it’s own feet.

I’d like to be able to say that if you’ve never read a Preston & Child book before that you can dive right in on this newest novel and catch up on the backstory later, but in all honesty if you were to do that you would be cheating yourself out of a large portion of the ride.

“The Lost Island” is the third book in a series centered around the terminally ill art-thief-turned-physicist Gideon Crew. Unlike Preston & Child’s other brainchild, FBI Special Agent Pendergast, Crew is an extremely fallible, emotionally driven character. His flaws and idiosyncrasies are the things that attach you to his story. These are well played out in “The Lost Island”, taking the emotional investment that is earned in the previous two novels and catapulting it to ever higher plains.

One of Preston & Child’s other strong suits is their ability to craft a story around a real life event, myth, or technology and do it in a way that doesn’t take a whole lot of fanciful thinking to be able set reality aside for a bit and enjoy the literary adventure. “The Lost Island” makes use of this device in respects to a well known classic tale, weaving history, reality, and fantasy together in a way that doesn’t disappoint.

If you’ve already read the first two “Gideon Crew” novels then I suggest you waste no time losing yourselves in the pages of “The Lost Island”. If not, I strongly suggest picking them up first and properly enjoy the journey.

“The Lost Island” is set for release on 8/5/2014 and will be available wherever books and ebooks are sold.

Check out the authors:
www.prestonchild.com