Author: Manda Scott, 2008
Genre: Cryptic Treasure Hunt. Historical Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 364 pages.
The novel opens with a claustrophobic journey by Dr Stella Cody and her new husband, Kit, into a deep caving system under the Yorkshire Dales. Their quest is to uncover a legendary blue crystal skull believed to have been hidden there by 16th century Cambridge scholar Cedric Owen, whose family has been the guardians of the skull for many centuries. For political reasons Owen had been forced to flee first to Spain and then to the New World. There he learns the secret of the skull's purpose and its future role to prevent the apocalypse predicted by the Maya.
In 2007 only a few years away from the predicted 2012 apocalypse, Stella and Kit are in a race against time to unlock that secret from coded journals left behind by Owen. However, there are the inevitable opposing forces that are also on the trail and which threaten their lives.
Scott has previously written crime fiction and a series of historical novels about Queen Boudica. She has a good sense of pacing, characterisation and story-telling. She also manages the task of combining strong narratives in both time periods and provides a satisfying mixture of the scientific with the mystical. I really enjoyed this though would have welcomed more details, especially about Owen's time among the Mayan people. The ending also felt a little rushed.
The Crystal Skull - Official web site that includes link to excerpt.
Author: Keith Jones, 2006.
Genre: Adventure. Mystery.
Other Details: Trade paperback. 228 pages.
Another gripping race-against time to locate an ancient Mayan key that is said to have the ability to extend time beyond its predicted end in 2012. The novel opens in a similar fashion to The Ruins, at a fashionable resort where tourists are not thinking about much beyond their next cocktail and working on their tans. This lulled me though that didn't last long! I won't say too much more because it would be too easy to spoil the plot and the opening chapters are worth reading cold. A Los Angeles Professor gets quickly drawn into the mystery as do the under-resourced Mexican police who are looking for a mundane solution.
Although the characterisations are a little basic, Jones really brings the setting alive and weaves in a satisfying amount of material on pre-Columbian Central American history and culture. It did feel too short and I felt certain questions were left unanswered. However, I discovered that there is a sequel, which I will be reading soon.