Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ripping Great Adventure!

Never, I repeat, NEVER, begin a Preston/Child book in the late evening on a work night.

Riptide by my favorite adventure author duo, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, swept me away. These guys are always edge-of-your-seat great, but this little gem kept me up late on a night I really needed to be in bed. I kept thinking I would come to a place where I could put a bookmark in it and return to it the next evening. Wrong!

From its sinister beginning to its eerie denouement and explosive climax, this account of the search for and salvage of a cursed treasure hoard holds the reader breathless. Such is the creaft of the authors, that they could take the telephone book and sell it for a movie.

The plot is predictable: Lonely island surrounded by fog on which a booby-trapped labyrinth of tunnels, pits, and sinkholes hides an immense pirate treasure which attracts the greed of an expert salvage team in possession of a secret code which will enable them to defeat the "curse" and become obscenely rich.

The characters are stock: Computer nerd, sexy foreign archealogist, angst-ridden hero, fanatically-crazed preacher, the girl who got away, rich treasure hunter who stops at nothing, slavish sidekick who does the dirty work.

But when Preston and Child toss all the ingredients together, the results are always fresh and evocative. The whole is much more than the sum of its parts.

I will never forget the sounds the island makes as the sea comes in--or the island itself--poor, doomed character that I know will die and take all with it (except of course, the hero who always survives). The island with its mantle of fog and its nether world that does not accept the rules of modern technology reminds me of the island in King Kong and takes me back to that simple morality tale where all of man's might fails when nature moves.

The difference is, Kong was subdued, the island is not.

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