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The Pharaoh Key

Review

The Pharaoh Key

Gideon Crew has just two months to live. He realizes his time is short as he suffers from a rare brain disorder that is inoperable and incurable. Knowing this information up front infuses the usual frantic pace of a Gideon Crew adventure with an extra sense of urgency from beginning to end.

THE PHARAOH KEY marks the fifth and final thriller starring Gideon, and I will be sorry to see him go. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s series has made for a nice respite from their popular Agent Pendergast books, as well as their separate solo efforts. The Crew novels have an air of fun and mischief about them, imbued entirely by their protagonist and are not nearly as dark as the Pendergast volumes can get. The series also allowed for Preston & Child to revisit an older stand-alone title when the prior Gideon Crew novel, BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT, retread over territory originally charted in THE ICE LIMIT from a few decades earlier.

"Thankfully and expectedly, Preston & Child wrap things up in highly honorable fashion and allow for their terrific fictional creation to get the send-off he deserves."

Mortality is not the only thing leaving Gideon. Much to his chagrin, he ventures to the downtown New York City headquarters of the organization he has been working for, Effective Engineering Solutions --- headed by the megalomaniac Eli Glinn --- to find the place shuttered up. He runs into a former colleague, Manuel Garza, who is also approaching their place of employment. In a fit of anger, they decide to go inside to see if any of their personal items or work is left. They don’t get far before two armed security guards come to usher them out while at the same time confiscating anything they tried to take and labeling it “company property.” However, the guards fail to see that Gideon has walked away with a small thumb drive filled with precious information.

After verifying the data on the drive, Gideon recounts for Garza a tale about the Phaistos Disc, a fabled treasure thought to be somewhere in the Middle East that Glinn had been seeking to discover but never got around to. Gideon and Garza even stage a fake blackmail meeting with Glinn in order to allow Gideon to finish downloading all the information related to the Phaistos Disc, which he and Garza have decided to partner up on and grab.

What transpires next is like something out of an Indiana Jones adventure. Gideon and Garza bounce from one near-tragedy to another en route to their treasure. They narrowly escape the sinking of a ferry bound for an unchartered region of the Middle East. To make matters worse, Garza confesses he cannot swim. They use various phony aliases to cover their tracks, claiming to be everything from John Deere salesmen to adventurers to CIA operatives to photojournalists for National Geographic. It is this last fake identity they give to a British woman named Imogen, who claims to be some type of geoarchaeologist also interested in reaching this ancient area.

Gideon, Garza and Imogen join forces, but a series of further deadly situations and a few double-crosses make their newfound alliance very sketchy, to say the least. The region they seek is known locally as the Hala'ib Triangle. There is a particularly chilling passage in which they have to face down a massive sandstorm known as a haboob that ends up becoming the longest 10 minutes of their lives. The three eventually reveal some truths about their presence there as they recognize they will need each other to survive and attempt a journey home with their discoveries.

THE PHARAOH KEY is never short on surprises or new adventures as they seemingly lurk around every corner. As the end of the novel approaches, things become bittersweet as you realize your time with Gideon Crew is coming to an end. Thankfully and expectedly, Preston & Child wrap things up in highly honorable fashion and allow for their terrific fictional creation to get the send-off he deserves.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 14, 2018

The Pharaoh Key
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

  • Publication Date: June 12, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455525820
  • ISBN-13: 9781455525829