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Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Diablo Mesa

Diablo Mesa by Douglas Preston

Diablo Mesa (Nora Kelly, #3) by  Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author), Lincoln Child

Amy Caudill‘s review

Authors Preston and Child have taken their characters to a lot of different places, but this latest edition to the Nora Kelly series enters previously unexplored territory, starting with an archeological dig that crosses paths with a possible alien conspiracy.

When Nora Kelly rejects an offer made to  the Santa Fe Institute to work with billionaire Lucas Tappan on an archeological survey of the Roswell site, she loses her job, only to get a better offer from Tappan to work for him privately.  Skeptical but intrigued by his “evidence” of something actually crashing in the area, she accepts, and almost immediately uncovers two murder victims buried in the sand.

Nora calls the only FBI agent she knows, Corrie Swanson, with whom she has shared a couple of adventures and thinks of as sort of a friend.  Corrie is assigned the case, which leads her down a rabbit’s hole of conspiracies and more deaths, including that of her mentor.  And for some reason, she can’t quite trust the new mentor from Washington who is assigned as her temporary supervisor.

With a plot that involves an alien probe, a secret quasi-government cult, and an action-packed assault through a hidden underground bunker; this story has plenty of action; as well as a possible romance for Nora Kelly, whose husband Bill Smithback died  due to involvement in one of Agent Pendergast’ cases (see the authors’ largest and best-known series.)

This story features the adventures of Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson, two alums from Pendergast novels and standalones from authors Preston and Child.  The two women are radically different in age, in outlook, and education, but through this series are drawn together through both shared experiences and their connection to one Agent Aloysius Pendergast.  The earliest book, Old Bones, has them at conflict, and as unwilling allies, but I sense by this third volume at least a thawing of emotions.  They agree to stay on a first name basis, despite coming together for official business.  If they will actually become friends remains to be seen, but I’m sure the authors have some interesting things planned for them in subsequent stories.

I’ll admit I was skeptical about some of the territory this novel  ventured into, but the authors have a talent for making the fantastic seem plausible, and I was deeply satisfied with the conclusion, as multiple antagonists (including Nora’s former bosses) received their just desserts.  I award this book five stars, and look forward to the next installment, Dead Mountain, due out in August.