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The Codex

The Codex by Douglas Preston

Reviewed by L. Bennett

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have written two other books I've enjoyed (Relic and Reliquary), but The Codex is the first one I've read wherein Preston was the single author. The other two were suspense thrillers with bizarre, science fiction like twists, but The Codex is a relatively straightforward adventure novel with no strange beings, but plenty of odd personalities.

Maxwell Broadbent is a very wealthy tomb robber with a fantastic art collection, who is also dying of cancer. He summons his three estranged sons to his mansion but when they arrive Maxwell and his art are missing. In a video recording, he issues a challenge to his sons -- find his tomb and they can have his art collection. Phillip is the oldest of the three, a university art history professor with a fake English accent and a pompous attitude. Vernon is a leftover hippie who is easily suckered, and Tom is a veterinarian practicing on the Navajo Reservation and living in Bluff, UT. They haven't agreed on anything for years.

As the story unfolds each of the sons decides to independently search for Maxwell's tomb, which turns out to be in a very remote part of Honduras. Each teams up with another person, who may or may not have their best interests at heart. It is a story of jungles and swamps, illusive native people, a hidden Mayan city, betrayal, and greed.

The author does a good job painting word pictures of jungle miseries and odd personalities, and provides all the major parts for a good story -- a tinge of mystery, skeletons in the closet, adventure, danger, and reconciliation. I doubt it will stand the test of time as one of America's great novels, but it will entertain. It was just the right companion for a recent day trip to central Utah's Castle Valley and the tiny hamlet of Clawson.

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