Diablo Mesa (2022) – Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Grand Central Publishing was kind enough to send me the latest Preston & Child thriller, Diablo Mesa, which came out in February. It had been a long time since I dug into a Preston & Child book, but back in 2014, I was plowing through their Pendergast series until my pile of To Be Read books threatened to topple over if I didn’t tend to it.

I was eager to get back into their rapid-fire storytelling that marries action beats, science, discovery, and wonder, and Diablo Mesa didn’t disappoint. The third novel in the Nora Kelly series, so you know I’m gonna have to go back and dig into those, as well as join up with Pendergast again, this one brushes up against a subject that I have found endlessly fascinating….

The Roswell Incident.

The supposed crash of an alien craft in the New Mexico desert, and subsequent announcement of its recovery and then cover-up by the United States government. No matter what you really think happened, it’s an interesting story and has become a touchstone of pop culture.

Nora Kelly, a brilliant archeologist, is willing to chart it up to crackpots, and general silliness, but when the multi-billionaire Lucas Tappan wants to finance a fully-funded expedition to explore and dig through the supposed crash site, Nora finds herself swept along, not quite unwillingly, but definitely skeptically.

But things are sidelined pretty quickly with the discovery of two bodies, murder victims, near the purported crash site, Nora reaches out to her acquaintance, FBI agent, Corrie Swanson to take a look.

Neither they, nor the people they are working for, are ready for where the investigation and the dig site lead them. And it’s a helluva ride!

While Preston & Child novels can definitely play with unusual occurrences, and creatures, taking on the idea of aliens in a mainstream thriller is a brave choice, but we also know that no matter what is or isn’t discovered is going to have to be boxed away before the end of the book. Despite having continuing characters, and callbacks to prior events, whatever is or isn’t learned about alien life in this book is going to be put away, unless the authors are preparing to take the series in an unexpected direction.

So that puts a bit of damper on the narrative, and the last third of the book feels a little rushed setting up some things that a smart reader knows have to happen and be resolved before the tale’s end. That being said I love the sense of discovery and possibility that surrounds Kelly’s dig, and her blossoming romance with Tappan. Kelly is a healthy skeptic, Swanson is a kick-ass FBI agent, and both of them are empowered, and smart women, characters that I really dig.

Preston & Child keep the story moving right to the last page, are they setting up further stories? You better believe it! Will they revisit the Roswell arc? Who knows. But digging into this novel reminded me how much I enjoy their storytelling style, and with an actual vacation coming my way soon, I may be loading up my e-reader with some Preston & Child.

Check out the highly enjoyable Diablo Mesa, from Grand Central Publishing today, and buckle in for a thrilling romp!

And make sure you check out the rest of Preston & Child’s books to dig into!

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