THE SCORPION’S TAIL by Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston

Nora Kelly, Book 2

From the publisher:

From #1 bestselling authors Preston & Child comes a thrilling novel following archaeologist Nora Kelly and FBI Agent Corrie Swanson as they work together to solve a twisted crime that reaches far beyond any of their worst fears.Following the acclaimed debut of Old Bones, this second “happily anticipated” new thriller in Preston & Child’s series features Nora Kelly, archaeologist at the Santa Fe Archeological Institute, and rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson, as they team up to solve a mystery that quickly escalates into nightmare (Booklist).

A mummified corpse, over half a century old, is found in the cellar of an abandoned building in a remote New Mexico ghost town. Corrie is assigned what seems to her a throwaway case: to ID the body and determine cause of death. She brings archaeologist Nora Kelly to excavate the body and lend her expertise to the investigation, and together they uncover something unexpected and shocking: the deceased apparently died in agony, in a fetal position, skin coming off in sheets, with a rictus of horror frozen on his face.

Hidden on the corpse lies a 16th century Spanish gold cross of immense value.

When they at last identify the body — and the bizarre cause of death — Corrie and Nora open a door into a terrifying, secret world of ancient treasure and modern obsession: a world centered on arguably the most defining, frightening, and transformative moment in American history.


The team of Child and Preston have been giving their readers well-done novels for many years. The duo has the knack of formulating an interesting plot coupled with crisp writing making for a flow that captures the imagination of their readers. 

The current novel utilizes Corrie Swanson a relatively new agent of the FBI and Nora Kelly an archaeologist to tell the story of a plot originating centuries ago. The action takes place in an area near to and on the White Sands New Mexico military base. A mummified corpse is discovered buried in the cellar of an abandoned building in a New Mexico ghost town. Probably thinking that checking the body after so many years would be a relatively simple thing to do Corrie’s supervisor assigns the investigation to her thinking that it would give her some more field experience with a relatively easy finish.     

In her initial investigation, Corrie finds evidence that would require the services of someone trained in archaeology and she contacts Nora who has worked with her on a previous case. Findings arise that indicate that the roots of what has been found date back about 400 years and initiating in the country of Mexico. A sheriff enters the investigation when findings indicate that the body may have been as a result of murder. He is a young man and a bit of mutual attraction begins between Corrie and him. Possibly something for the authors to continue in future books involving Corrie.     

The book is an interesting one and does incorporate research done by the authors which peak up the interest for the reader. No problem in continuing to look for and read novels by the team. They also have written books individually giving rise to the question: do they sleep?

2/2021 Paul Lane

THE SCORPION’S TAIL by Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston. Grand Central Publishing (January 12, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538747278. 416 pages.

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