DOUGLAS PRESTON & LINCOLN CHILD – The Lost Island. Grand Central, hardcover, 2014; paperback, March 2015.
Between them, the pair of authors Preston and Child have written and co-written a list of titles that fills a page, just before the title page. I’ve always meant to read one, and now I finally have. All things considered, I may not have picked the best one to start with.
To begin with, while Preston and Child are best known for their series of books about someone called Pendergast, this is the third in a new series featuring an adventurer named Gideon Crew. It doesn’t matter so much that this is the third one; it’s that when this one ends Gideon is ready to continue the adventure right into the fourth one. I always hate that when it happens.
But even worse is that this gets more and more uninteresting as the book goes on. I hate it even more when that happens. It begins with Gideon stealing a page from the Book of Kells from its state-of-the-art guarded case in Manhattan museum, one of the most audacious ventures I can imagine you can imagine, and it continues on with Gideon’s employer chemically removing the hand-colored print from the page, completely destroying it.
The madness behind this action? A treasure map, one not leading to gold or other sundry valuables, but a secret with all-but-magical healing powers. And off Gideon goes to find it, discovering as he does so that he is retracing steps taken by others before him in the realm of Greek mythology.
But with rather ordinary obstacles along the way: treasure-hunting pirates, a shipwreck, a unknown tribe of natives who believe in human sacrifice — each of step the way turning disaster into just coincidentally one step further in the right direction.
The final obstacle is not so ordinary, but by that time the pedestrian writing and dialogue had me caught in a bind. I’d spent a lot of time getting to that point myself. Should I give up, or try to redeem my input to this point and garner whatever output I could get? I tossed a mental coin and I went on, and while I’m glad I did, I probably made the wrong decision.
In my opinion, as far as this book is concerned — I certainly can’t vouch for their earlier work — I think Preston and Child are writing for young adults. I’d state that as a fact if it weren’t for all of the bloody deaths that occur, especially toward the end of the book. Of course maybe that’s what young adults are reading these days, instead of the Hardy Boys and their motorcycle and roadster. I have to admit that is something I just don’t know.