Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

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Excavation by James Rollins

HarperCollins, July 2000.
Paperback, 432 pages.
ISBN: 038081093X.
Ordering information:

by James Rollins Archeologist Dr. Henry Conklin and his team of students, which includes his nephew Sam, have made a stunning find -- a perfectly preserved mummy located in the depth of the South American jungle. When the mummy is brought back to the John Hopkins laboratory, it exhibits some shocking characteristics. Meanwhile, at the excavation site, Sam and his team -- Norman Fields, a National Geographic photojournalist, grad student Ralph Isaacson, Denal, the thirteen-year-old Quechan boy who serves as camp translator and Irish-born Maggie O'Donnel -- have made another incredible find. Inside one of the pyramids of the jungle city, the group finds a sealed tomb with a Latin inscription. The translated inscription warns, "We leave this tomb to Heaven. May it never be disturbed." When grave robbers attack, the group is sealed in the pyramid in the ensuing cave-in, and must find a way out. They find a way, but it is fraught with danger as a centuries-old curse and an advanced technology combine to threaten not only the archeological team, but life on Earth itself.

Excavation is the kind of heart-pounding, thrill a minute adventure that will keep you up to all hours of the night, reading as fast as you can. If you can shed your cynical, world-weary 21st century mindset, then Excavation will take you to another world, full of hidden gold, lost tombs, horrible monsters, the horrors that advanced science can produce, and even romance. Even with all the pyrotechnics, the human element doesn't get lost. Rollins is excellent at writing strong female characters (See his fantasy series, Wit'ch Fire, Wit'ch Storm and Wit'ch War), and has a light hand when telling the tale of the two couples who fall in love during their adventures. The romance between the 50+ couple Henry and Joan is especially funny, touching and blends right in with the adventure. So, get out your most comfortable easy chair, pour a glass of your favorite libation and prepare to be transported to another world. Highly recommended.

"G" is for Grafton by Natalie Hevener Kaufman and Carol McGinnis Kay

Owl Books, September 2000.
Trade Paperback, 466 pages.
ISBN: 0805065075.
Ordering information:

G is for Grafton
by Natalie Hevener Kaufman and Carol McGinnis Kay Sue Grafton's private investigator Kinsey Millhone is such a vivid character, that to her legions of fans she seems quite real. So it is no surprise that the life, loves, likes and dislikes of this famous Santa Theresa, California p.i. are chronicled in this Edgar award-winning book by Natalie Hevener Kaufman and Carol McGinnis Kay. Newly updated through O is for Outlaw and released in an attractive trade paperback, G is for Grafton is the authoritative reference for the popular alphabet mystery series.

The book is divided into chapters with headings such as "Kinsey's Biography," "Kinsey's Daily Life," "Kinsey's Personal Relationships," "The Scene of the Action," "Kinsey at Work" and so on. The book can be read from beginning to end, or can be used as a reference work to look up various facets of Kinsey's life. Fully vetted and contributed to by Sue Grafton herself, the book is a godsend for fans who want a full discussion of Kinsey's eating habits (Quarter Pounders with cheese, various sandwiches, and occasional fabulous treats created by her landlord and retired commercial baker, Henry) or to see photos of fictional Santa Theresa (really Santa Barbara, where Grafton herself keeps a summer home). Enhanced by quotes from the books and from the series' author, G is for Grafton is a must-have for fans of the series and for aspiring novelists who need to learn how to create a fascinating, compelling protagonist.

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