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Dead Mountain: A Nora Kelly Novel

Review

Dead Mountain: A Nora Kelly Novel

Two frat boys are drunk and stoned when their ride runs off the road and becomes grounded. Stuck in the New Mexico mountains with night and snow falling, they stumble around looking for some sort of shelter. They find a cave that seems to be perfect, so they hunker down and start a fire before another round of drinking and toking. Shortly thereafter, one of them discovers what appears to be a skull buried in the ground beneath him and attempts to sleep off what he figures is just a bad trip.

When the situation does not change in the light of day, the young men contact the authorities. FBI Agent Corrie Swanson learns that she has a new mentor after her previous one was killed. Agent Sharp jumps at the opportunity to explore this case as he believes he understands what it’s all about. Corrie’s first call is to her old colleague, Nora Kelly, the Chief of Archaeology at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute.

"DEAD MOUNTAIN is a first-rate thrill ride done in the indomitable style that has become Preston & Child’s trademark. Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson are terrific, extremely likable characters."

Sharp goes on to fill in the blanks for Corrie and tells her about the infamous “Dead Mountain” case. In 2008, nine mountaineers tore out of the side of their tent and into the sub-zero temperatures, some without shoes on, never to be seen alive again. Six bodies were found both initially and over the succeeding years in various forms of trauma, such as missing eyes and limbs, and some contained what proved to be radioactive materials. Their families have never given up on them and still continue to push the Feds and local law enforcement into revealing the truth behind these disappearances.

Conspiracy theorists claim everything from a bear to a Yeti to alien invaders as being responsible. Most importantly, the skull that the boys found appears to be connected to a full body, and the cave soon reveals a second corpse. It looks like these mummified remains belong to two of the nine missing campers, which means there is still one more body to recover. Alarmingly, one is filled with knife cuts and the other had a knife plunged directly into his chest. Speculation leads Corrie and Sharp to believe that one of them went wild with hypothermia and stabbed the other to death, only to then turn the knife on himself. It's a frightening supposition and one that may be difficult to ever validate.

Nora and her small team support all of these findings and assist with the identification of the bodies. She and Corrie realize that they are in the midst of a volatile, high-profile story where they are under the constant scrutiny of the media, locals and the families of the deceased. One member of Nora’s team turns up another buried knife with the initials MHT on it, yet those letters don’t match any of the lost nine. The revelations and secrets that Nora and Corrie are about to uncover together will be nowhere near what they ever could have expected.

DEAD MOUNTAIN is a first-rate thrill ride done in the indomitable style that has become Preston & Child’s trademark. Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson are terrific, extremely likable characters. The narrative and backstory in which they are caught up is the thing of nightmarish legend that will have readers buzzing through this outstanding thriller.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 25, 2023

Dead Mountain: A Nora Kelly Novel
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

  • Publication Date: August 22, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538736829
  • ISBN-13: 9781538736821