By Douglas Preston
"Greetings from the dead," declares Maxwell Broadbent on the videotape he left behind after his mysterious disappearance. A notorious treasure hunter and tomb robber, Broadbent accumulated over a half a billion dollars' worth of priceless art, gems, and artifacts before vanishing---along with his entire collection---from his mansion in New Mexico.
At first, robbery is suspected, but the truth proves far stranger: As a final challenge to his three sons, Broadbent has buried himself and his treasure somewhere in the world, hidden away like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. If the sons wish to claim their fabulous inheritance, they must find their father's carefully concealed tomb.
The race is on, but the three brothers are not the only ones competing for the treasure. This secret is so astounding it cannot be kept quiet for long. With half a billion dollars at stake, as well as an ancient Mayan codex that may hold a cure for cancer and other deadly diseases, others soon join the hunt---and some of them will stop at nothing to claim the grave goods.
The bestselling coauthor of such page-turning thrillers as Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities, Douglas Preston now spins an unforgettable tale of greed, adventure, and betrayal.
Half of the writing team responsible for Relic, The Cabinet of Curiosities and other adventure bestsellers takes a solo flight, as Preston's writing partner, Lincoln Child, did in last year's Utopia. Like Child, Preston flies high and fast, turning in a briskly involving science-based thriller. The titular book is a Mayan artifact containing the sum of that people's knowledge about the medical applications of indigenous plants. The information is worth billions to any pharmaceutical company, but the Codex, along with numerous other priceless objects, was taken deep into the Honduran jungle by dying legendary tomb robber Maxwell Broadbent, to be buried along with him in a secret crypt. Max left instructions to his three grown sons that the only way to get their inheritance will be for them to track him and find the tomb. Max, who viewed his progeny as "quasi-failures," reasoned that by accomplishing this daunting task, the three-a veterinarian, a hippie spiritual seeker and a second-rate professor-will have proven themselves as men. What follows is rip-roaring jungle adventure, outfitted with a nasty villain (a sadistic PI who's also after the treasures), a beautiful blonde (partner to the vet), two memorable Indian characters, hosts of wild animals, terrific atmosphere and cliffhangers galore. The novel's main weakness is its lack of a strong central protagonist-the characters work more as an ensemble cast-such as Preston/Child have presented in their wonderful series detective, Special Agent Pendergast. Yet as always, Preston delivers the goods in a first-rate beach novel that most readers will be enjoying-at least in hardcover-while looking at snow rather than sand. Agent, Eric Simonoff. 150,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.