A page-turning new thriller by the New York Times bestselling co-author of The Relic and Ice Limit. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from The Codex by Douglas Preston
Tom Broadbent turned the last corner of the winding drive and found his two brothers already waiting at the great iron gates of the Broadbent compound. Philip, irritated, was knocking the dottle out of his pipe on one of the gateposts while Vernon gave the buzzer a couple of vigorous presses. The house stood beyond them, silent and dark, rising from the top of the hill like some pasha's palace, its clerestories, chimneys, and towers gilded in the rich afternoon light of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"It's not like Father to be late," said Philip. He slipped the pipe between his white teeth and closed down on the stem with a little click. He gave the buzzer a stab of his own, checked his watch, shot his cuff. Philip looked pretty much the same, Tom thought: briar pipe, sardonic eye, cheeks well shaved and after-shaved, hair brushed straight back from a tall brow, gold watch winking at the wrist, dressed in gray worsted slacks and navy jacket. His English accent seemed to have gotten a shade plummier. Vernon, on the other hand, in his gaucho pants, sandals, long hair, and beard, looked uncannily like Jesus Christ.
"He's playing another one of his games with us," said Vernon, giving the buzzer a few more jabs. The wind whispered through the pinon trees, bringing with it a smell of warm resin and dust. The great house was silent.
The smell of Philip's expensive tobacco drifted on the air. He turned to Tom. "And how are things, Tom, out there among the Indians?"
"Glad to hear it."
"And with you?"
"Terrific. Couldn't be better."
"Vernon?" Tom asked.
"Everything's fine. Just great."
The conversation faltered, and they looked around at each other, and then away, embarrassed. Tom never had much to say to his brothers. A crow passed overhead, croaking. An uneasy silence settled on the group gathered at the gate. After a long moment Philip gave the buzzer a fresh series of jabs and scowled through the wrought iron, grasping the bars. "His car's still in the garage. The buzzer must be broken." He drew in air. "Halloo! Father! Halloo! Your devoted sons are here!"
There was a creaking sound as the gate opened slightly under his weight.
"The gate's unlocked," Philip said in surprise. "He never leaves the gate unlocked."
"He's inside, waiting for us," said Vernon. "That's all."
They put their shoulders to the heavy gate and swung it open on protesting hinges. Vernon and Philip went back to get their cars and park them inside, while Tom walked in. He came face-to-face with the house -- his childhood home. How many years since his last visit? Three? It filled him with odd and conflicting sensations, the adult coming back to the scene of his childhood. It was a Santa Fe compound in the grandest sense. The graveled driveway swept in a semicircle past a massive pair of seventeenth-century zaguan doors, spiked together from slabs of hand-hewn mesquite. The house itself was a low-slung adobe structure with curving walls, sculpted buttresses, vigas, latillas, nichos, portals, real chimney pots -- a work of sculptural art in itself. It was surrounded by cottonwood trees and an emerald lawn. Situated at the top of a hill, it had sweeping views of the mountains and high desert, the lights of town, and the summer thunderheads rearing over the Jemez Mountains. The house hadn't changed, but it felt different. Tom reflected that maybe it was he who was different.