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The Scorpion's Tail

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Member Reviews

This is the second in the Nora Kelly series by the excellent Preston and Child writing team. This one begins in a ghost town in New Mexico where a mummified corpse is discovered. FBI agent Corrie Swanson and archeologist Nora Kelly team up to discover the story behind. This leads to a complex plot, well-written, involving ancient treasure, Geronimo and corruption. And Agent Pendergast makes an appearance. While not the strongest of the team's  work this is a good read with interesting background and character development. It should probably be called the Nora Kelly Corrie Swanson series since they've worked closely together in both books.
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2021; Grand Central Publishing

Usually if I can make it to 60% I am most likely going to finish the novel. I just couldn't make it 40% more. I like the concept of the book, but it feels like a whole lot of nothing happening. The science and history aspects of the novel got me this far, but even that got old fast.

***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook/audiobook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
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I have not been keeping up with Preston and Child's Pendergast so it was nice to visit his world again tangentially. FBI Agent Connie Swanson ropes in Nora Kelly, an archaeologist, to excavate a mummy discovered in a ghost town cellar in the New Mexican desert. What they found on that mummy led to a hunt for buried Spanish treasure with plenty of red herrings to keep the reader's attention. A nicely paced adventure that satisfied my action craving this weekend!
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Another hit from Preston and Child! Mystery, Thriller, and History all woven together that you won't be able to put down until the very end!
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Rookie FBI Special Agent Corrie Swanson is assigned a case involving someone trying to dig up relics from a ghost town in a remote region of New Mexico. She is dispatched to meet up with the local sheriff, Homer Watts, who has been wounded in a shootout with the looter. The biggest concern is the dead body that was dug up along with the relics – one of them is extraordinary. 

Corrie calls in Nora Kelly, a senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute to help sort out the relics associated with the body, which just may have been a long-ago murder. Before long, Corrie and Nora discover more than they have bargained for. More than a few people will go to any length to keep anyone from discovering the secrets held by the corpse.

This fast-paced thriller kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The characters are interesting, each of them brings his or her own special knowledge to the table. Corrie is growing as an FBI agent, but not without making mistakes along the way. It was fun to have a guest appearance from one of Preston and Child’s other series pop up unexpectedly. 

I am a huge fan of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s writing. The fast-paced, intriguing thrillers are their specialty, and this series is one to follow and enjoy. The Scorpion’s Tail is the second book in the Nora Kelly & Corrie Swanson Series. I suggest reading the first book in the series (Old Bones), which was excellent as well, but it isn’t absolutely necessary as The Scorpion’s Tail reads as a standalone novel. I enjoyed both of them immensely.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman.
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The second in the series is as fun as the first. The characters, the fast pace, and the historical info included along the way all make this a fun and interesting read. Can't wait for the next in the series!

Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for this ARC.
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I felt no connection to either FBI Agent Corrie Swanson or archaeologist Nora Kelly.  Expected more from Preston and Child.
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Ever reliable authors tell an ever reliable story, which can either be a good or bad thing.  This time, it was a good thing.  The book perfectly suited my mood when I picked it up and held my attention throughout.  I told my dad to pick it up and he isn't an easy man to give book recommendations to.
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The Scorpion's Tail by Douglas Preston is the second book in his new Nora Kelly series. Archaeologist Nora Kelly helps FBI agent Corrie Swanson solve the mystery of a mummified corpse found in an abandoned mining town, in New Mexico. The local sheriff confronts a relic hunter digging at the High Lonesome mining site. After shooting the relic hunter and conducting a search of the site, the sheriff locates a mummified body buried in the ruins. FBI agent Corrie Swanson is assigned to the case. She seeks help from archaeologist Nora Kelly for removing the body. The plot includes Native American History and lore, Spanish Missionary History and the 1945 atomic bomb testing in New Mexico. Great story; can’t wait for book 3 in this series.
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Preston and Child have done it again. Here’s another tautly plotted, adventuresome tale featuring super-cool characters, fascinating archaeological work,  and the gorgeous scenery of the American Southwest. I really enjoy the friendship the authors are building between the archaeologist and the FBI agent. Two strong women surviving in fields dominated by men and successfully solving the crimes! 

I really, really, really hope the next book finds Nora having left her post and taken a whole bunch of donors with her!
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Special Agent Corrie Swanson is a rookie FBI agent working in a New Mexico field office.  The finding of a partially mummified body in a ghost town has her calling on Nora Kelly, who is an archaeologist at the Santa Fe Archeological Institute, to excavate the body.  Together they work to discover what killed a man who went missing in 1945.  And why does he have a gold cross from Mexico that dates from before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

The mystery deals with looting of lost treasures and throws in some history of nuclear testing in NM.  I really like Nora (reminding me of the tv show Bones).  Corrie is also well trained too, with a degree in cultural anthropology.  The mystery itself wasn't overly exciting.  The plotting was a bit predictable and the villain was easy to spot.  I also didn't care for poor treatment of Corrie because she was a women by some of her fellow agents.  It is probably realistic but wasn't needed.  This is the second in a spin-off series.  Agent Pendergast from the original series makes a cameo appearance near the end to tie things up.  I haven't read his stories so that didn't add much for me.

I will look for the next book in the series as I enjoy this type of story.  I hope it will build on the partnership between the two women as they solve mysteries.  Some language and mild violence.  Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for an ARC ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 12, 2021

The Scorpion’s Tail is billed as the second Nora Kelly novel (following Old Bones), although it’s actually a Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson novel. Swanson is an FBI agent and a young protégé of Pendergast, who has a long-running series of his own. Kelly is an archeologist who, for the second time, has been called upon to join an FBI investigation that has need of her skills.

Old Bones involved the Donner Party. The Scorpion’s Tail takes a look at the first atomic bomb test in the New Mexico desert in 1945. Co-author Douglas Preston has an interest in archeology that will apparently drive this series, as it drives some of the writing team’s other books.

Swanson is still viewed as a rookie and, despite her success in Old Bones, isn’t necessarily viewed with favor. When a body is discovered on federal property in a ghost town called High Lonesome, Swanson is sent to investigate. The body has been buried for decades. It shows no obvious evidence of homicide but the corpse’s face suggests that death was accompanied by terror or extreme pain. Corrie doesn’t want to mess up the evidence by digging it up herself. Nor does she want to waste the time of an evidence team if there was no murder. She instead decides to waste Kelly’s time.

Swanson also finds the remains of a mule that was shot through the head, but murdering a mule isn’t a federal crime. With the help of a glory-hogging medical examiner, Swanson decides that the corpse probably wasn't murdered. To identify the deceased, Swanson puts her forensic anthropology skills to use. Legwork reveals the corpse's identity and eventually his cause of death. Subsequent investigation takes Swanson and Kelly to an army base, to rumors of treasure hidden in the mountains, and to a descendent of Geronimo. Swanson also visits some bars because the best investigations are accomplished with a beer in hand.

Old Bones is formulaic and predictable. The Scorpion’s Tale is a more challenging whodunit. The story generates more suspense than Old Bones by placing the characters in more plausible danger. The plot is reasonably credible in comparison to modern thrillers, most of which have little concern with plausible storytelling. I’m not in love with either of the protagonists in this series (although Pendergast makes a brief but welcome cameo) but the authors gave me no reason to dislike them. Perhaps in the future they will develop personalities. I would still prefer to spend time with a Pendergast novel than a Nora Kelly novel, but The Scorpion’s Tail isn’t a bad way to pass the time until the authors get around to writing another Pendergast.

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The Scorpion’s Tail is another great mystery by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I reviewed the first in this series about 18 months back. At the time I remarked “Preston and Child are about all you need to hear to know it is going to be a good, and likely great, mystery novel. Their collaboration is simply amazing.”

This second in the series does nothing to change my mind. It was a great read and hard to put down.

It doesn’t take long to get to the dead body. It has been there for decades and just uncovered. It is on federal land in an old ghost town and seems to be a fairly simple case. But it quickly gets complicated as rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson investigates to determine identification of the body, cause of death and whether or not foul play was involved. She talks archaeologist Dr. Nora Kelly into helping her with some aspects of the case and together they discover a much deeper mystery than they could even imagine.

I highly recommend this book and thank Netgalley for the chance to read it before publication.
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The Scorpion’s Tail is the second of Preston and Child’s Nora Kelly series which actually feels and reads more as the Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson series, an offshoot of the wonderful Pendergast books. Much of the plot is covered in the descriptions which are easily found so I will briefly summarize. Corrie, who is in her initial 2 year “apprenticeship” with the FBI, has been given an assignment: to discover what a relic hunter was searching for in a long isolated ghost town in the hills near White Sands Reservation. What was worth his taking a bullet?

From that, the story branches out to other talk of relics of the very old southwest, how Nora with her anthropologist eye and knowledge can assist with the case. And the case develops. There is murder, there are gunfights. At times, the new West feels a bit like the Old West. While some of the action and actors felt a bit over the top to me, I enjoyed the history, the discussions of authenticating finds or interpreting their meaning. Occasional steps out of reality are not unusual in Preston and Child’s books. Unlike in the Pendergast novels, however, the steps here were not into the paranormal but rather into the far fetched. But, hey, I still enjoyed the novel and I have liked Corrie Swanson since Still Life With Crows.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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The Scorpion's Tail is the second book featuring archaeologist Nora Kelly and FBI rookie Corrie Swanson. This time around, they work together to solve the death of a prospector whose body was uncovered in a ghost town. This was on my list of book that I was looking forward to this year. I really enjoyed the first book, Old Bones. This can definitely be read as a stand alone book.

I really enjoyed this second book. It didn't disappoint. Both women are really great characters. There was a lot more growth in both of them, especially Corrie. I like the fact that Corrie is a rookie and is still learning how to be an agent. All too often we see FBI agents that are seasoned and experienced, so it's a nice change to have someone who is still learning the ropes. Nora also learns some things about herself and her career path. I look forward to seeing them both continue to grow as characters.

The mystery was interesting and kept me engaged. There were some tense scenes that had me on the edge of my seat, especially the opening scene. I think this one would make a great movie. I hope that this series will continue in the future. I highly recommend this one.
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The Scorpion's Tail, by co-authors Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child, is the second installment their Nora Kelly series. Dr. Nora Kelly is senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute who first appeared in the authors Thunderhead and is an associate of FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. The series also features FBI Agent Corrie Swanson of the Albuquerque Field Office. She's the protegee of Special Agent Pendergast who saw something in her that her own parents didn't. Corrie and Nora first worked together in the story Old Bones which revisited the Donner family tragedy.

Corrie has been out of the FBI academy for 8 months and is spending the next two years on probation while working out of New Mexico field office. She had quite the experience after Nora lead an expedition into the Sierra Nevada to find the Donner Party's "Lost Camp" and found herself deep in trouble. You could say that Nora owes Corrie her life. While responding to a violent domestic dispute with other agents, Corrie makes a mistake and even though she saves a child, she blames herself for not doing enough.

Two weeks later, she is assigned by Supervisory Agent Hale Morwood to an unfolding case up near the Azul Mountains. A local sheriff encountered an illegal relic hunter uncovering a dead man's body. One of the reasons that this is the perfect case for Corrie is that she has a background in forensic anthropology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Corrie requests Nora's assistance in determining how hold the body might be. Corrie needs all the help she can get because people see how young she is and tend to ignore her.

Nora is an ace when it comes to ancient Pueblo culture. Said mummified body appears to have been buried since around 1945. What’s even more shocking is that an old golden cross is found with the body likely dating back to the 17th century when Spain and Native Indians warred with each other over the land. This suddenly becomes a mystery, and a treasure hunt of sorts. There's talk of a hidden treasure high up in the mountains surrounding the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. But then things get a bit strange. Someone doesn't want Corrie or Nora anywhere near the ghost town of High Lonesome.

They'll face the rigors of the dangerous terrain where Geronimo and the Apaches once roamed which is now home to Los Alamos and the White Sands Testing Range. They will face historic details about the release of nuclear weapons on the desert and the desire among those in the know and others to find a long-hidden cache of gold and other gems. There's a lot going on in this story, but it is fast paced and engrossing. The historical aspects of the story, especially the nuclear tests in the New Mexico desert, once again proves that the authors actually took their time and did some research before laying pen to paper. 

As a historical buff, I found myself checking on the authors work to see how accurate they are. Surprisingly, very. We yet again get an Agent Pendergast sighting to save the day. Not sure why he’s needed except to embarrass Corrie or to prove he’s just better than anyone else.
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A little mystery, a little history, and a young sheriff that will remind the reader of a young Walt Longmire.Though FBI special agent Corrie Swanson and curator Nora Kelly of the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute are central characters, I found Sheriff Watts to be more engaging.  A local sheriff that added humor, skill, and insight into what would have otherwise been a dull and dry book.

When a mummified corpse is found in High Lonesome, a ghost town on federal land and Watt’s starts to investigate only to be shot at, he decides he needs to call in another set of guns -- those belonging to the FBI. When a body is recovered, along with a gold jeweled encrusted cross dating back to the Spanish colonial period, interests begin to peak.  When the remains are identified as a man that disappeared in the 1940s, and a legend of missing treasure buried along the Jornada del Muerto discussed, all eyes suddenly focus on the investigation.  What no one was expecting was what was going on at the local military base at the time and how lore was passed from father to son. 

Interesting twists, a great deal of history, well-placed humor, and a memorable young sheriff with nothing to prove but a whole lot to say.
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Another FBI thriller from Preston and Child featuring archaeologist Nora Kelly and young agent Corrie Swanson! I enjoyed the way the modern murder opened a multi-faceted historical mystery.
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Another exciting installment in this series featuring archeologist curator Nora Kelly and FBI Special Agent Corrie Swanson of the Albuquerque Field Office.

There is talk of a hidden treasure high up in the mountains surrounding the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. This folk tale is thought to be mostly myth, but there are those who are desperate to find the riches gleaned from the exodus of a group of friars leaving the area after the Apaches try to take back their land. There are many who have sought these riches for years and, as the bodies pile up, the key protagonists in this tale try to stop the looting. NO SPOILERS.

This is the second book and I must confess, I liked it less than the first, but it was a page-turner nevertheless. Lots of action and interesting details about the release of nuclear weapons on the desert and the desire among those in the know to find a long hidden cache of gold and other gems. There's a lot going on in this story but it is very fast paced and extremely engrossing. the details that the authors are known for are ever present and it's a history lesson as well as a thriller. I must say that I really don't like the character of Corrie Swanson, but I do like Nora Kelly. I love this author duo and can't wait to read the next installment. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for this e-book ARC to read, review and recommend.
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Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson ride again in The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. As a low-ranking FBI special agent in the New Mexico field office, Swanson gets called out to investigate the discovery of a mummified corpse in an abandoned desert town on federal land. She coerces Nora Kelly, senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute to assist her in excavating the body. The body is curled up in a fetal position and when fully unearthed, discovered to be holding a cross of gold that dates to Spanish colonial rule. Soon the two are tied up in a conspiracy involving relic hunters, radiation, and rumors of a long-hidden cache of Spanish treasure.

Preston and Child know how to build and sustain suspense. Kelly and Swanson are great characters and play well off each other. Each are dealing with workplace politics. Swanson is trying to make her bones in the FBI and struggling to make the right kind of impression, especially after her participation in an arrest that nearly ended tragically. Kelly is dealing with academic politics and is in line for a promotion at the Institute. Swanson’s instincts tell her that they are on the trail of something big but her inexperience makes it harder for her to convince anyone. Kelly is being pulled away from her own projects at work, but the mystery before her proves too tantalizing to resist.

Preston and Child surround these two with solid characters, including quick-draw Sheriff Watts. The New Mexico desert is a character in itself. The remoteness, isolation and danger play a major role. Preston and Child are the best at blending history, archeology and adventure. This second book in a new series bodes well for many more sequels. Highly recommended.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher.
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