Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Dead Mountain by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

First Line: Brandon Purdue and his frat buddy Mike Kottke sat on a rock underneath a big fir tree, near where their Jeep had skidded off a Forest Service road into a ditch and run over a sapling.
Once again, FBI Agent Corrie Swanson enlists the aid of archaeologist Nora Kelly when two drunken frat boys stumble on ancient remains when they find shelter in a cave. However, Kelly not only uncovers Native American remains, she finds two much more recent ones.

The recent ones turn out to be from an ill-fated 2008 winter backpacking trip into the New Mexico mountains. At their final campsite, searchers find a bizarre scene that suggests something appearing in the door of the hikers' tent that was so terrifying they cut their way out of the tent and ran barefoot into a blizzard and certain death.

Only one hiker of the so-called Dead Mountain 9 remains to be found, and with the help of Nora Kelly, Corrie Swanson is determined to not only find him but also find out the truth of what happened to them all.


Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Nora Kelly series has turned into a must-read for me whenever I want some high-octane fun-- although I do wonder if Nora will ever turn Corrie down when she asks for help because, every time she says yes, she finds herself in a big mess.
I fell in love with New Mexico on a visit a few years ago, and I always look forward to what bits of that state's history these two men will use to fuel their story. Although Nora does help Corrie with the Dead Mountain 9 investigation, she finds herself pulled away by her impulsive brother Skip who runs afoul of a corrupt sheriff when the two help people from the Isleta Pueblo repatriate ancient remains found in the cave. Learning more about NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) laws was very interesting, and I enjoyed how Skip was extricated from his dire situation. 
The major storyline involving the Dead Mountain 9 uses Kirtland Air Force Base as a possible focus for Corrie's investigation. Watching Corrie and her new mentor, Agent Sharp, unravel all the knots surrounding the coverups of what happened during that blizzard fifteen years ago was a blast. I love how Preston and Child's minds work!
No matter how good the story, it wouldn't really work if the characters weren't up to the same high standards, and they are. Archaeologist Nora Kelly is the more seasoned of the two and keeps Corrie's worst impulsiveness in check. She also has valuable knowledge to bring to the table. Neither woman is someone you want to mess with when you're in the wrong. Nora's brother Skip is the class clown, the comic relief. Will he ever learn when to keep his mouth shut? You can count on me to keep reading to find out. And of course, there's Sheriff Homer Watts, the handsome six-gun-toting lawman who takes special care of his cowboy hat. He can be counted on to ride in and help save the day. Seeing these recurring characters develop is one of the best parts of reading the series.
This cast of characters is one that is determined to confront injustice, and watching how Agents Swanson and Sharp and all the rest bring justice to the Dead Mountain 9 is the icing on the cake of an extremely enjoyable read. I can't wait for the next book in the series! 

eISBN: 9781538736838
Grand Central Publishing © 2023
eBook, 393 pages
Thriller, #4 Nora Kelly & Corrie Swanson
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


  1. I really like the setting for this one, Cathy. I think New Mexico is beautiful, and it's such a great setting for this sort of story. And I like it that Corrie and Nora are strong protagonists. Bonus, too, for the connection to the past. Every once in a while, it's good to rev up the engine and go for the octane...

  2. Can't even talk or write; up all night reading the unputdownable thriller ,Drowning, by T.J. Newton, author of Falling. Once one gets past the dead bodies floating in the ocean, the book pulls one right in as plans are made for the rescue of the passengers still on a plane which has dived into a sea cliff off an old sunken volcano in Hawaii'. Wow, what a ride -- and did I ever learn more about planes, physics, design, rescues. Then I read Goodyears and everyone stayed up all night to read this book.

    1. I have Newman's first book on my Kindle, and something tells me that I'll be getting to it sooner rather than later. Especially with all the good things I'm hearing about her latest. She's a local author who's appeared at The Poisoned Pen for both her books.

  3. Nora's brother does make me laugh. The setting of this one sounds so great. And I like seeing how Corrie and Nora work together to figure things out. I've got this one on my TBR list. :D

  4. I just read this over the past weekend, and enjoyed it about as much as you did. Wintey weather on the page was a bonus as a counter to the swelter of real-life temperatures, too.

    1. Yes, it is. For some strange reason *cough* *cough* I have a tendency to read books set in Siberia or Alaska or ones that prominently feature blizzards during the summer here in the desert. ;-)


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