Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child pen a new winner in the 2023 release Dead Mountain. The latest in the Nora Kelly series involves a cold case mystery. How did nine veteran climbers perish under unusual circumstances? Of course, Halloween as the date of the event adds to the eeriness. Furthermore, only six bodies were recovered in the aftermath.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Dr. Kelly is an archaeologist frequently contacted by young FBI agent Corrie Swanson to either give expert opinion or handle ancient finds uncovered during investigations. Previously, the two teamed up in several Preston & Child novels including The Scorpion’s Tail. Both women are strong likeable characters. Neither gives up until the truth is found.
Dead Mountain- A Cold Case Never Closed
Two young men stumble over human remains inside a cave. In the process of verifying the remains as ancient, Kelly and Swanson stumble upon more skeletons. But these remains were much younger. Thus, the Dead Mountain case becomes active once again.
The story line is actioned packed. The FBI takes a lot of heat for never discovering the truth from the 2008 event. Backstories of the families and former agents create a nice subplot. Additionally, Dr. Kelly’s brother Skip lands in hot water once again. This subplot mostly serves to show the corruptness of Sheriff Hawley. The bones were discovered in his county. To be honest, Skip is a character that grates on one’s nerves, even if he’s with the good guys.
Top Secret Bunker
At the heart of the mystery is a secret bunker originally built to protect President Eisenhauer. Agent Swanson surmises the scared hikers were headed for the safety of the bunker. Perhaps the remains of the still missing final member of the expedition will be found there. Unfortunately, she cannot gain access. Instead, she is ordered to cease and desist with the investigation. Furthermore, she is ordered to pretend to continue investigating. Naturally this does goes against her moral compass.
So, Agent Swanson pushes on with the help of Dr. Kelly. They discover the missing hiker and his journals and camera-only to be ambushed. Fortunately, Swanson’s new mentor Agent Sharp and Sheriff Watts arrive just in time. Watts reveals his feelings for Swanson adding just the right touch of romance for the end.
Preston & Child the talented duo behind Dead Mountain are prolific authors. And they work well as a team. Each also writes solo books. Both have a long list of impressive credentials. So, it is not surprising how well researched their books are. This is important to me because nothing encourages me to stop reading a book more than inaccurate details.
Praise for this duo is found in the previous blog posts Library Book Sale and City of Endless Night. To be honest I have read more of Mr. Child’s work since supernatural thrillers are often read in this household. For anyone with a non-fiction preference, Mr. Preston brings fine detail to all of his work. Needless to say, I enjoyed Dead Mountain and highly recommend this novel.