by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Nora Kelly, a young archaeologist in Santa Fe, receives a letter written sixteen years ago, yet mysteriously mailed only recently. In it her father, long believed dead, hints at a fantastic discovery that will make him famous and rich—the lost city of an ancient civilization that suddenly vanished a thousand years ago. Now Nora is leading an expedition into a harsh, remote corner of Utah's canyon country. Searching for her father and his glory, Nora begins t unravel the greatest riddle of American archeology. but what she unearths will be the newest of horrors...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446608374
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 06/01/2000
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 68,241
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.32(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

The thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child "stand head and shoulders above their rivals" (Publishers Weekly). Preston and Child's Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities were chosen by readers in a National Public Radio poll as being among the one hundred greatest thrillers ever written, and Relic was made into a number-one box office hit movie. They are coauthors of the famed Pendergast series and their recent novels include Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, Two Graves, and Gideon's Corpse. In addition to his novels, Preston writes about archaeology for the New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines. Lincoln Child is a former book editor who has published five novels of his own, including the huge bestseller Deep Storm.
Readers can sign up for The Pendergast File, a monthly "strangely entertaining note" from the authors, at their website, The authors welcome visitors to their alarmingly active Facebook page, where they post regularly.

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A., Pomona College, 1978

Read an Excerpt


The freshly paved road left Santa Fe and arrowed west through piñon trees. An amber-colored sun was sinking into a scrim of dirty clouds behind the snowcapped Jemez Mountains, drawing a counterpane of shade across the landscape. Nora Kelly guided the rattletrap Ford pickup along the road, down chamisa-covered hills and across the beds of dry washes. It was the third time she had been out here in as many months.

As she came up from Buckman's Wash into Jackrabbit Flats-what had once been Jackrabbit Flats-she saw a shining arc of light beyond the piñons. A moment later, her truck was speeding past manicured greens. A nearby sprinkler head winked and nodded in the sun, jetting water in a regular, palsied cadence. Beyond, on a rise, stood the new Fox Run clubhouse, a massive structure of fake adobe. Nora looked away.

The truck rattled over a cattle guard at the far end of Fox Run and suddenly, the road was washboard dirt. She bounced past a cluster of ancient mailboxes and the crude, weatherbeaten sign that read RANCHO DE LAS CABRILLAS. For a moment, the memory of a summer day twenty years before passed through her mind: once again she was standing in the heat, holding a bucket, helping her father paint the sign. Cabrillas, he'd said, was the Spanish word for waterbugs. But it was also their name for the constellation Pleiades, which he said looked like water skaters on the shining surface of a pond. "To hell with the cattle," she remembered him saying, swabbing thick letters with the paintbrush. "I bought this place for its stars."

The road turned to ascend a rise, and she slowed. The sun had now disappeared, and the light was draining fast out of the high desert sky. There in a grassy valley stood the old ranch house, windows boarded up. And beside it, the frowsy outlines of the barn and corrals that were once the Kelly family ranch. No one had lived here in five years. It was no great loss, Nora told herself: the house was a mid-fifties prefab, already falling apart when she was growing up. Her father had spent all his money on the land.

Pulling off the road just below the brow of the hill, she glanced toward the nearby arroyo. Somebody had surreptitiously dumped a load of broken cinderblocks. Maybe her brother was right and she should sell the place. Taxes were going up, and the house had long ago passed the point of no return. Why was she holding on to it? She couldn't afford to build her own place there-not on an assistant professor's salary, anyway.

She could see the lights coming on in the Gonzales ranch house, a quarter mile away. It was a real working ranch, not like her father's hobby ranchito. Teresa Gonzales, a girl she'd grown up with, now ran the place by herself. A big, smart, fearless woman. In recent years, she'd taken it upon herself to look after the Kelly ranch, too. Every time kids came out to party, or drunken hunters decided to take potshots at the place, Teresa rousted them and left a message on the answering machine at Nora's townhouse. This time, for the past three or four nights, Teresa had seen dim lights in and around the house just after sunset, and-she thought-large animals slinking about.

Nora waited a few minutes, looking for signs of life, but the ranch was quiet and empty. Perhaps Teresa had imagined the lights. In any case, whoever or whatever it was seemed to have left.

She eased the truck through the inner gate and down the last two hundred yards of road, parked around back, and killed the engine. Pulling a flashlight out of the glove compartment, she stepped lightly onto the dirt. The door of the house hung open, held precariously by a single hinge screw, its lock cut off long ago with bolt cutters. A gust swept through the yard, picking up skeins of dust and moving the door with a restless whisper.

She flicked on the flashlight and stepped onto the portal. The door moved aside at her push, then swung back stubbornly. She gave it an annoyed kick and it fell to the porch with a clatter, loud in the listening silence. She stepped inside.

The boarded windows made the interior difficult to make out, yet even so it was clearly a sad echo of her memory of the house she grew up in. Beer bottles and broken glass lay strewn across the floor, and some gang member had spraypainted a tagline on the wall. Some of the boards covering the windows had been pried away. The carpet had been ripped up, and sofa cushions sliced in half and tossed about the room. Holes had been kicked in the drywall, along with liberal pepperings from a .22.

Perhaps it wasn't that much worse than the last time. The rips on the cushions were new, along with the ragged holes in the wall, but the rest she remembered from her previous visit. Her lawyer had warned her that in its present condition the place was a liability. If a city inspector ever managed to get out here, he would immediately condemn it. The only problem was, tearing the thing down would cost more than she had-unless, of course, she sold it.

She turned from the living room into the kitchen. Her flashlight beam swept over the old Frigidaire, still lying where it had been overturned. Drawers had recently been removed and strewn about the room. The linoleum was coming up in big curls, and someone had hastened the process, peeling off strips and even ripping up floorboards to expose the crawlspace underneath. Vandalism is hard work, she thought. As her eyes roved over the room again, something began to nag at the back of her mind. Something was different this time.

She left the kitchen and began to climb the stairs, kicking aside wads of mattress ticking, trying to bring the thought into focus. Sofa cushions sliced, holes punched in walls, carpeting and linoleum ripped up. Somehow, this fresh violence didn't seem quite as random as it had in the past. It was almost as if someone was looking for something. Halfway up the darkness of the stairwell, she stopped.

Was that the crunch of glass underfoot?

She waited, motionless in the dim light. There was no sound but the faint susurrus of wind. If a car had driven up, she'd have heard it. She continued up the stairs.

It was even darker up here, all the windowboards still in place. She turned right on the landing and shone the flashlight into her old bedroom. Again she felt the familiar pang as her eyes moved over the pink wallpaper, now hanging in strips and stained like an old map. The mattress was one giant packrat's nest, the music stand for her oboe broken and rusted, the floorboards sprung. A bat squeaked overhead, and Nora remembered the time she'd been caught trying to make a pet out of one of them. Her mother had never understood her childish fascination for the creatures.

She moved across the hall to her brother's room, also a wreck. Not so different from his current place. But over the smell of ruin, she thought she detected the faintest scent of crushed flowers in the night air. Strange-the windows are all shuttered up here. She moved down the hall toward her parents' bedroom.

This time, there was no mistaking it: the faint tinkle of broken glass from below. She stopped again. Was it a rat, scuttling across the living room floor?

She moved silently back to the top of the landing, then paused. There was another sound from below: a faint thud. As she waited in the darkness, she heard another crunch, sharper this time, as something heavy stepped on broken glass.

Nora exhaled slowly, a tight knot of muscle squeezing her chest. What had begun as an irritating errand now felt like something else entirely.

"Who is it?" she called out.

Only the wind answered.

She swung the flashlight beam into the empty stairwell. Usually, kids would run at the first sight of her truck. Not this time.

"This is private property!" she yelled in her steadiest voice. "And you're trespassing. The police are on their way."

In the ensuing silence, there came another footpad, closer to the stairwell.

"Teresa?" Nora called again, in a desperate hope.

And then she heard something else: a throaty, menacing sound that was almost a growl.

Dogs, she thought with a sudden flood of relief. There were feral dogs out there, and they'd been using the house as a shelter. She chose not to think about why this was somehow a comforting thought.

"Yah!" she cried, waving the light. "Get on out of here! Go home!"

Again, silence was the only reply.

Nora knew how to handle stray dogs. She stomped down the stairs, speaking loudly and firmly. Reaching the bottom, she swept the beam across the living room.

It was empty. The dogs must have run at the sound of her approach.

Nora took a deep breath. Even though she hadn't inspected her parent's bedroom, she decided it was time to go.

As she headed for the door, she heard another careful footstep, then another, excruciatingly slow and deliberate.

She flashed her light toward the sounds as something else registered: a faint, breathy wheeze, a low, monotonous purring mutter. That same scent of flowers wafted through the heavy air, this time stronger.

She stood motionless, paralyzed by the unfamiliar feeling of menace, wondering if she should switch off the flashlight and hide herself or simply make a run for it.

And then out of the corner of her eye she saw a huge, pelted form racing along the wall. She turned to confront it as a stunning blow landed across her back.

She fell sprawling, feeling coarse fur at the nape of her neck. There was a maniacal wet growling, like the slavered fighting of rabid hounds. She lashed into the figure with a vicious kick. The figure snarled but relaxed its grip slightly, giving Nora a moment to wrench free. Just as she jumped up, a second figure slammed into her and threw her to the ground, landing atop her. Nora twisted, feeling broken glass digging into her skin as the dark form pinned her to the ground. She glimpsed a naked belly, covered with glowing spots; jaguar stripes; claws of horn and hair; a midriff, dank and matted-wearing a belt of silver conchos. Narrow eyes, terrifyingly red and bright, stared at her from grimy slits in a buckskin mask.

"Where is it?" a voice rasped in her face, washing her in the cloyingly sweet stench of rotten meat.

She could not find the voice to reply.

"Where is it?" the voice repeated, crude, imperfect, like a beast aping human speech. Vicelike claws grasped her roughly around the neck and right arm.

"What-" she croaked.

"The letter," it said, claws tightening. "Or we rip your head off."

She jerked in sudden fevered struggle, but the grip on her neck grew stronger. She began to choke in pain and terror.

Suddenly, a flash of light and a deafening blast cut through the darkness. She felt the grip slacken, and in a frenzy she twisted free of the claws. She rolled over as a second blast ripped a hole in the ceiling overhead, showering her with bits of lathe and plaster. She scrambled desperately to her feet, shards of glass skittering across the floor. Her flashlight had rolled away, and she spun around, disoriented.

"Nora?" she heard. "That you, Nora?" Framed in the dim light of the front door, a plump figure was standing, shotgun hanging forward.

"Teresa!" Nora sobbed. She stumbled toward the light.

"You okay?" Teresa asked, grabbing Nora's arm, steadying her.

"I don't know."

"Let's get the hell out of here."

Outside, Nora sank to the ground, gulping the cool twilight air and fighting down her pounding heart. "What happened?" she heard Teresa ask. "I heard noises, some kind of scuffle, saw your light."

Nora simply shook her head, gasping.

"Those were some hellacious-looking wild dogs. Big as wolves, almost."

Nora shook her head again. "No. Not dogs. One of them spoke to me."

Teresa peered at her more closely. "Hey, your arm looks bitten. Maybe you'd better let me drive you to the hospital."

"Absolutely not."

But Teresa was scanning the dim outlines of the house, eyebrows knitted. "They sure did leave in a hurry. First kids, now wild dogs. But what kind of dogs could vanish so-"

"Teresa, one of them spoke to me."

Teresa looked at her, more searchingly this time, a skeptical look creeping into her eyes. "Must've been pretty terrifying," she said at last. "You should've told me you were coming out. I'd have met you down here with Señor Winchester." She patted the gun fondly.

Nora looked at her solid figure, her rattled but capable face. She knew the woman didn't believe her, but she didn't have the energy to argue. "Next time I will," she said.

"I hope there won't be a next time," said Teresa gently. "You need to either tear this place down, or sell it and let someone else tear it down for you. It's becoming a problem, and not just for you."

"I know it's an eyesore. But I just hate to think of letting it go. I'm sorry it's caused trouble for you."

"I would've thought this might change your mind. Want to come in for a bite of something?"

"No thanks, Teresa," Nora said as firmly as she could. "I'm all right."

"Maybe," came the reply. "But you better get a rabies shot anyway."

Nora watched as her neighbor turned onto the narrow trail that headed back up the hill. Then she eased into the driver's seat of her truck and locked all the doors with a shaking hand. She sat quietly, feeling the air move in and out of her lungs, watching Teresa's dim form merge slowly with the dark bulk of the hillside. When at last she felt in full control of her limbs, she reached for the ignition, wincing at a sudden stab of pain in her neck.

She turned over the engine, unsuccessfully, and cursed. She needed a new vehicle, along with a new everything else in her life.

She tried it again, and after a sputtering protest the engine coughed into life. She punched off the headlights to conserve the battery and, slouching back against the seat, gently pumped the accelerator, waiting for the engine to clear.

To one side, a flash of silver winked briefly. She turned to see a huge shape, black and furred, bounding toward her against the last twilight in the western sky.

Nora slammed the old truck into gear, punched on the headlights, and gunned the engine. It roared in response and she went fishtailing out of the yard. As she careened through the inside gate, she saw with consummate horror that the thing was racing alongside her.

She jammed the accelerator to the floor as the truck slewed across the ranch road, spraying mad patterns of dirt, whacking a cholla. And then, the thing was gone. But she continued to accelerate down the road to the outer gate, wheels pounding the washboard. After an unbearably long moment, her headlights finally picked up the outer cattle guard looming from the darkness ahead, the row of old mailboxes nailed to a long horizontal board beside it. Too late, Nora jammed on the brakes; the truck struck the cattle guard and was airborne. She landed heavily and skidded in the sand, striking the old board. There was the crunch of splintering wood and the boxes were flung to the ground.

She sat in the truck, breathing hard, dust smoking up around her lights. She dropped into reverse and gunned the engine, feeling panic as the wheels dug into the deep sand. She rocked twice before the truck stalled.

In the glow of the headlights, she could see the damage. The row of ranch mailboxes had been a rickety affair to begin with, and they had recently been supplanted by a shiny new set of post office boxes that stood nearby. But she could not back up: there was no choice but to go forward.

She jumped out and, glancing around for any sign of the figure, moved around to the front of the truck, picked up the rotten, abandoned mailboxes, and dragged them aside into the brush. An envelope lay in the dirt, and she grabbed it. As she turned to step back into the truck, the headlights caught the front of the envelope. Nora froze for a moment, gasping in surprise.

Then she shoved it in her shirt pocket, jumped into the truck, and peeled back onto the road, careening toward the distant, welcoming lights of town.

(c) 1999 by Dougas Preston and Lincoln Child"


On Tuesday, July 27th, welcomed Lincoln Child to discuss THUNDERHEAD.

Moderator: Welcome, Lincoln Child! Thanks for joining us this evening to discuss your new thriller THUNDERHEAD, written with your coauthor Douglas Preston and set in the backcountry canyons of Utah. How are you this evening?

Lincoln Child: I'm very good! Many thanks for having me here this evening.

Hank Sheehan from Baltimore, MD: Love your books. Keep 'em coming! Just curious: How did you and Doug team up? How did your ideas for RELIC come about?

Lincoln Child: Thanks, Hank! There's a long answer to how Doug and I got together, and then there's a longer answer. When I was an editor, I contacted Doug to write a nonfiction story on the American Museum of Natural History. It was called "Dinosaurs in the Attic," and we became good friends during the process. That museum is so fascinating, we decided to write a thriller together about a fictitious museum.

Micheal from Austin, TX: What inspired THUNDERHEAD? Do you have any background in archaeology? Have you ever participated in any digs?

Lincoln Child: Doug Preston and I have always been fascinated by archaeology in general, and by the mystery of the Anasazi in particular. I don't have any professional experience in archaeology, but my grandmother, Nora Kubie, was an archaeologist. She worked on many digs, including Masada, Caesarea, and Camelot. I accompanied her from time to time on digs in New England. The first dig I was on, in fact, I accidentally found the most important artifact! It did not endear me to the professionals...

Gary Werner from Goshen, IN: Lincoln, is it true that you used to be an editor yourself? If so, did working with a publisher help open any doors for your writing career? What advice would you give an author who's just starting out?

Lincoln Child: Yes, I was an editor at St. Martin's Press in New York for several years. Working there didn't "open any doors" per se, but what it did, I think, was ensure that my own proposal(s) for books would at least be read by agents. From there, I was on my own. As for advice for starting authors, that depends on where you are. If you're putting together a manuscript, you might consider a writer's group. If you have a manuscript you want to get published, try to get an agent. That makes things easier, though it's still far from easy.

Paul C. from San Francisco: Do you have a favorite among your books? Which was the most challenging to write? The easiest?

Lincoln Child: I get asked that often! My stock response is, "I love all my children equally well." But for different reasons. RELIC will always be special to me because it was the first novel I (co)wrote. THUNDERHEAD has personal associations for me, with the archaeological aspect. I'm also really fond of RIPTIDE. We worked very hard to make that a tight, visual, almost cinematic read.

B. Shazaam from Minnesota: Regarding THUNDERHEAD, I was curious how and why you chose a fictional shuttle name (Republic).

Lincoln Child: I have to think for a minute.... That name was mine, I think, not Doug's. (Sometimes it's hard to remember!) I guess it sounded very shuttle-ish to me. Don't you think so?

Jan from San Francisco: Are there still a lot of lost cities and places in Utah and the west that archaelogists are trying to find? Is Quivira a real city?

Lincoln Child: Doug is more of an expert in this than I am, but the answer to your first question is an emphatic yes! Not only are there numerous places in Utah and elsewhere that archaeologists are searching for, there are many that have been found but whose location is being kept secret, so that they will not be discovered and looted of artifacts. As for Quivira being real, that's been a mystery ever since Coronado searched for it hundreds of years ago. But the rumors persist and are so numerous it's hard for me, at least, not to believe them.

Cassie Rowell from West Chester, PA: Do you have an idea for your next book? I really loved this one. It was a great read; I read it in a day. Hi again.

Lincoln Child: Thanks, Cassie. Actually, when you're on a writing schedule such as Doug and myself, you always have several books in various stages of development: THUNDERHEAD is out in hardcover now, and RIPTIDE was just released in paperback, et cetera. And yes, we've almost finished the manuscript for our next book. I can't say much, except that it's about a very wealthy entrepreneur out to build the world's most magnificent museum. He learns of a very special artifact that lies at the bottom of South America, and he mounts an expedition to find it. But what he finds is the very last thing he or anyone else expected...

Brian from Philadelphia: What type of research did you have to do on Indian tribes, archaeology, or mystical practices to write THUNDERHEAD? Do you have a special interest in these topics? Can't wait to check the book out.

Lincoln Child: Doug Preston has done extensive research on southwestern Native American peoples. In fact, he took a horseback trip through the most remote deserts of New Mexico and elsewhere, tracing Coronado's search for Quivira. This is recounted in his nonfiction books, CITIES OF GOLD and TALKING TO THE GROUND. He also encountered -- at his peril, he'll be the first to tell you -- a "skinwalker" of the kind we describe in THUNDERHEAD. And, yes, both Doug and myself are fascinated by archaeology and Native American religions.

Cathy from Thousand Oaks, CA: I wanted to tell you that I greatly enjoyed RELIC, RELIQUARY, and MOUNT DRAGON. I can't wait to read your new book, THUNDERHEAD. I was wondering if you are doing a book tour and if so, will you be in the southern California area? Also, how do the two of you get together and come up with your story lines?

Lincoln Child: Many thanks, Cathy. We currently have no plans to make personal appearances in southern California, although one of us may make it there later in the year. If you're interested, you can check our web site,, which is kept updated with our tour schedules. As for how we get together for stories, that's probably the most difficult part of the job! We have to make sure that our ideas are still fresh and viable a year or 18 months down the road, when the book is actually published. So a lot of time is spent on the phone, sending faxes back and forth, doing research on possible ideas, and then developing those ideas. We only write stories that interest us -- and stories that we would want to read ourselves. That's very important to us. So we work hard to make sure we have the absolutely most exciting idea to us before starting work.

Doug from Minnesota: Mr. Child: Your stories always have well-developed characters and thoroughly researched plots. What do you find most challenging -- developing characters and writing the story, or doing the real-world research?

Lincoln Child: Hi, Doug, thanks for the question. Of the things you mention, developing characters is probably the most difficult. Every book we've written (except for RELIQUARY) has been a new story, not a sequel. That means developing an entirely new set of fresh characters, with believable and interesting backstories, and personalities that readers can sympathize with (or hate, depending on the character). That's a tough job! The research is enjoyable, because we always write about topics that fascinate us. And we like the idea of our readers walking away from our books with an insider's understanding of a subject they might not otherwise have a chance to experience.

Melissa from New York: How did you decide on a female protagonist for THUNDERHEAD? Did you have a hard time writing for a female?

Lincoln Child: Good question. I'm not exactly sure why we decided on a female protagonist for THUNDERHEAD, any more than why we did the same thing in our first book, RELIC. I think perhaps it was because in RIPTIDE the lead was male, and we wanted a fresh challenge for ourselves in creating another lead. It was additionally challenging because, in one sense, the two main leads are women (Nora and Sloane). It was not more difficult, really, but then we didn't really delve into all sorts of very personal areas. Did we succeed? That's my question to you.

Cassie from Pennsylvania: Hi, my name is Cassie Rowell. When I was reading RIPTIDE, that kinda freaked me. I just wanted to say that your last two books have ties to me; I just got back from a camping trip to Mesa Verde and other ruins. And I was going to write a book about the reason they so mysteriously disappeared. Probably won't happen though. I do have a question. Have you been to Mesa Verde or other ruin sites? I love the way you tied the books together by bringing in Smithback.

Lincoln Child: Cassie, thanks for sharing that! And yes, I'm rather proud of bringing back Smithback. Doug and I needed another character on the expedition, and we were trying to flesh him/her out, when suddenly I had the brainstorm of bringing a journalist on the expedition -- and having him be one of our favorite characters from earlier novels (RELIC and RELIQUARY). I very much like the idea of having characters from various books of ours wander on and off the stage of new books, enriching the new book as well as further developing their own characters.

Lori from Reno: Hi, Lincoln. Did you like the movie version of RELIC?

Lincoln Child: What I liked about it was the fantastic museum sets. I also thought the monster was very well done! Of course, I would have liked to see some of our favorite characters make it to the screen (like Pendergast or Smithback), but it's difficult to reduce a 400-page book into a 90-minute screenplay.

Joe from Melbourne, Australia: Hi...what's your writing schedule like? Do you write from an outline? How many drafts do you do?

Lincoln Child: That's an interesting question. A lot of people assume that Doug and I write different chapters we assign to ourselves. But in our case, that would be a recipe for disaster. The way we generally work is that once we've developed an idea, I put together a rough outline for Doug. He then writes rough chapters, based on that outline. I then extensively rewrite those chapters. That way, we get all four hands on just about every sentence, and the manuscript develops by accretion -- sort of like the Zamboni approach to fiction. Of course, there are some chapters almost entirely mine or almost entirely Doug's, but what I describe is the usual process.

Kate from Georgetown: How do the two of you work together on your books? Does one person research and the other write and edit, or are both of you involved in all parts of the process?

Lincoln Child: I partially answered this question just now, but yes, we both write, and both edit, at different stages. We are definitely both involved in all parts of the process. One of the nice things about working with a coauthor is that we can share the expertise of two people. And we can each play critic to the other's worst excesses. And hopefully, with two heads working on the project, we get twice as many good ideas to choose from. The down side is splitting the money, of course...

Adam from Texas: Are any of your other books planned to make it to the big screen?

Lincoln Child: RIPTIDE has been purchased by Arnold Kopelson for Fox. It looks very promising, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that the project goes forward.

Max from Rochester, NY: Who is the Company of Nine whom you dedicate THUNDERHEAD to? Love your books!

Lincoln Child: Thanks! The "Company of Nine" are the friends who have made the biggest impact on my life. They don't know they're part of this company, actually -- it just seemed easier than writing out all their names! Actually, I wasn't going to say what the "company" was, and be coy about it, but what the heck...

Clark from Boulder, CO: Nora Kelly really faces some tough survival issues. Do you have any interest in testing your own ability to survive in the wilderness, say, on an Outward Bound trip?

Lincoln Child: Good question. I can tell you right now that my actions in the wilderness would probably resemble those of Aaron Black! Actually, I do enjoy mountain hiking and have "bagged" several of the Adirondack high peaks. But very remote wilderness makes me nervous. Doug, on the other hand, is just the opposite. He loves nothing better than taking horses into areas hundreds of miles from civilization -- or even telephones!

Karen Hospador from New York City: While researching RELIQUARY, what did you discover about Manhattan's underground tunnels? That's got to be one of the scariest things that I've ever read about. Also, what about the mole people? Are there really as many people living beneath New York as your novel proclaims?

Lincoln Child: We did quite a bit of research on underground Manhattan. It's one of those urban legends that has more truth to it than people might expect. I've heard differing stories about what's been happening with the mole people recently. Some say underground Manhattan has been purged of residents. But I doubt it. And, yes, it is a scary place. I personally hate the Lexington Avenue express -- especially when it stops 15 blocks from a station! As you can probably tell from the "subway scene" in RELIQUARY.

Matt Delorenzo from Ithaca, NY: Just wanted to say that I really love your novels. I can't wait for the next one. Really loved MOUNT DRAGON. Do you see a cure for the common cold surfacing any time in the near future? What about artificial blood? Do you think it'll be discovered during our lifetimes?

Lincoln Child: Thanks, Matt. MOUNT DRAGON was a very ambitious book for us. The funny thing about artificial blood was that we thought we'd invented the idea -- we were looking for a thriller topic to follow up RELIC, and I could think of few things more unnerving to me than putting genetically-engineered artificial blood in my veins. But then we learned that several companies were working on it! What's transpired in the three years since the book was originally published, I can't say, but I think artificial blood is definitely going to be with us in the future.

Tim Long from Springfield, OH: Hi, Lincoln. Have you ever tried to write anything on your own, without a collaborator? If so, do you think it's easier or harder to create a cohesive story with another person by your side?

Lincoln Child: Tim, so far the only projects I've done on my own were a series of ghost story anthologies for St. Martin's Press. But yes, I fully intend to write a novel on my own in the future, and have several ideas in mind. (I just hope nobody beats me to them in the meanwhile!) I think it might be a little challenging, psychologically, at first, but I relish that challenge

Moderator: Thank you, Lincoln Child, for chatting with us this evening. Before you go, do you have any closing comments for your online audience?

Lincoln Child: I want to thank you for moderating this chat, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to address all the questions. As always, readers are invited to send Doug Preston and myself email at, or visit our web site at I also want to thank all of you for reading our books and for taking the time to join me here this evening. All the best! If you keep reading, we promise to keep writing! Thanks again.

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Thunderhead 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 171 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book by Doug Preston and Lincoln Child. I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. to finish it!!!! It has all the elements I love in a great story: adventure, romance, hidden cities, treasure hunting, evil villains, a strong willed woman character, anicent Indians, canyons, and horses. It was a whirl wind of a thrill ride for me. The main character, Nora, is one of my favorite characters. She can ride a horse as well as any man, is stubborn, and intelligent, yet she has a soft side to her too. The plot is all the things I mentioned above. It starts out fast, keep the pace going quickly, and the ending is awesome. Well, done Mr. Preston and Mr. Child. This book sure would make an great movie!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the better Preston and Child books. After the Pendergast series went south with the Diogenes storyline, I decided to give the non-Pendergast books a try and I wasn't disappointed. The best part of this book was the fictionalized yet entirely plausible mystery of the Anasazi - and it helped that I love archaeology because this book has plenty of it. All of it was wrapped in a fun, suspenseful story. It was fun to read Smithback in a crossover, it was good to see the origin of Nora Kelly, and there were other interesting characters as well. I'm definitely going to checl out the other non-Pendergast books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Tyrannosaur Canyon, then Relic, then Thunderhead, then Mount Dragon. All have great story ideas but Thunderhead is a clunker in terms of narrative skill. TC, MD and Relic are much more highly recommendable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
...that's where the excitement is. Nora Kelly is as boring a protagonist as there ever was. And so is her family, and her job, and her work. But once she makes her journey out to 'the site', the book gets great and picks up and you are in a page-turner all of the sudden. Highly recommended, but not as good as others of P&C I've read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although this book started out slowly, once the hunt for the lost city started it was hard to put the book down. I loved the descriptions of the Anasazi city and the many artifacts found there. I am interested in Indian culture and although this was a fictional account of what could have happened to the Anasazi, it was enthralling nonetheless. Very exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
couldnt put this book down
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story did not hook me until their little expedition got off into the desert, and then I couldn't put it down. The images of what they found in that abandoned village stay with me even now a year later. I would like to read the book again.
Karen0 More than 1 year ago
Kept you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Love how the authors incorporate and expand their main characters. This unique story explores the idea of an ancient city of gold. The twists and turns will keep the reader engrossed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down at times
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters are annoying and full of egos for 2/3 of the book but it all comes together in the end and makes the read worth it!
Zare on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After receiving letter addressed to her 16 years ago by her father (long believed to be dead) Nora Kelly finds herself involved into adventure that may finally reveal the secret behind the one of the most advanced Native American nations.Writing style is great, action is well paced and characters are not shallow. If you like Indiana Jones style adventures (and who does not if i may ask :)) give this one a try. You'll love it.Recommended.
Grandeplease on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, co-authored by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, is an archeological thriller. The heroine, Nora Kelly, leads a team in search a lost city of early inhabitants of North America. Ms. Kelly is also on a personal mission as she hopes to find an explanation for the disappearance of her father many years before.The archeology is spiced with the supernatural, science and some romance. Even though the plot, including some of the twists and turns, is predictable, I still found this book to be an irresistible page turner.This book is good entertainment, even if the minor romance thread borders on silly and is a stereotypical middle age male fantasy.
TheBentley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't find this one quite up to the level of the Pendergast books--certainly not to the level of Relic and Reliquary--but it doesn't disappoint. Though it's a little slower getting started than their best, it's still a good, original page-turner that keeps you guessing. Dan Brown only wishes he could write thrillers that moved at this pace.
turtlesleap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nora Kelly, a young archaeologist, receives a letter from her long-missing father that she believes will provide clues to the location of the legendary city of Quivira. As Nora struggles to obtain funding, and then to lead her troublesome expedition into the mountains of New Mexico, she and her crew are threatened by sinister, seemingly supernatural figures. The book is entertaining, if a bit silly in places. The two male authors fall a bit short in bringing authenticity to the rivalry between Nora and Sloane. This book would make a terrific movie in the tradition of Indiana Jones. Good visuals withlots of scope for great photograpy and special effects.
chinquapin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a spellbinding tale of archaeological intrigue and the ever present menace of ancient evil in the isolated desert canyons of Utah. Nora Kelly believes that a letter that she received from her father, who has been missing and assumed dead for 16 years, describes how to reach Quivera, the rumored City of Gold. With an elite team of archaeologists, she goes on an expedition into the remote desert of Utah in search of the truth. Evil and supernatural horrors await them as they reach the long-forgotten city. I enjoyed this novel tremendously, it was an exciting rush from beginning to end. Several of the characters were well developed, especially for this type of novel, the desert canyon setting was exquisitely drawn, and the plot was exciting and full of adventure. There was history, archaeology, ancient mythology, supernatural evil, bravery, treachery, sacrifice, and even redemption. All in all, a great story.
SharronA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is definitely one of the best non-Pendergast novels by these authors! It deals with archaeology and Anasazi ruins, and brings Nora Kelly and Bill Smithback together for the first time. Very suspenseful (except of course we know that neither Nora nor Bill can get killed!) and well-plotted. Even when you know what's bound to happen, you still can't turn the pages fast enough. A good read!
AlmondJoy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A young archaeologist leads a dangerous expedition looking for Quivira, the fabled Anasazi "Lost City of Gold," after receiving a mysterious letter from her father who has been missing for sixteen years. Spellbinding! Preston and Child have set the standard in defining the page-turner. Best adventure book I've read in years!
jontseng on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All the ingredients of a first-rate thriller: Ancient civilisation, hidden treasure, stunnign landscapes, lost castles, secret guardians and dastardly villains. Well seasoned and expertly prepared. Bravo.
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
n years after the disappearance of her father, archaeologist Nora Kelly receives a letter from him giving directions to his last find. Rounding up a team, she sets off into the back country of Utah to find a lost city of the Anasazi Indians. But someone is out to stop the group in this fast paced book by the Preston/Child team.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story takes place in Utah and New Mexico, and focuses on Nora Kelly (who is also in Cabinet of Curiosities), a young archaeologist who receives a letter from her father, who had been dead for years, telling her that he has found a fabled lost city in the desolate canyons of Utah. Then at her family's deserted ranch, she is set upon by two people wearing wolf skins who obviously mean her harm.She is able to get an expedition together and the group sets out in search of the lost city. It is not an easy trip; the canyons are narrow, water is scarce, and the group of people that are traveling together are diverse in their expectations of what will happen once they find their target. However, once they do reach the lost city, weird things start happening with deadly consequences. There is more than a hint of the supernatural in this story; actually what is weird is that I read it after finishing Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman and skinwalkers play an active role in this story. (Think Twilight Zone theme song)Mystery and suspense fans will LOVE this book. There is fast-paced action, the characters are believable and the book will keep you turning page after page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit long at times but a very good read
Brainiac2112 More than 1 year ago
What an epic adventure! I have been a fan of this writing duo since the publication of "Relic". Their Pendergast series is always a pleasure to read. As a stand alone book, "Thunderhead" is awesome! It is my favorite book by these authors and is one of my favorite stories of all time! It has all the elements I love - great characters, plot, thrills, chills, suspense, etc. It captured my imagination and interest all the way through. I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down.
rshRH More than 1 year ago
I have read many books with the same old Indian tales and superstitions. This just adds to the reading and makes it one more that make a person really wonder is there some truth in all this?? A good read in any case, so enjoy...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago