For his latest solo outing, Lincoln Child (author of Terminal Freeze, Deep Storm, and the Pendergast series with frequent co-writer Douglas Preston) shifts the tomb-raiders-battle-ancient-evil story from the clichés of the genre by moving the setting away from the usual sand-swept plains of Egypt. Instead, The Third Gate places protagonist Jeremy Logan -- an internationally renowned "enigmalogist" -- in "the Sudd," a mucky swamp south of the Egyptian border.
One character describes the Sudd as "a region thousands of square miles across, not so much swamp as an impenetrable labyrinth of papyrus reeds and waterlogged trunks. And mud. Mud everywhere, mud more treacherous than quicksand. The Sudd isn't deep, often just thirty or forty feet in places, but in addition to being horribly honeycombed with braided undergrowth, its water is so full of silt, divers can't see an inch beyond their face. The water's full of crocodiles by day, the air full of mosquitoes by night. All the early explorers gave up trying to cross it and eventually went around."
So, not exactly a top-ten travel destination, even for those on a budget. It's there, under the mucky nightmare, that a team of fortune hunters hopes to uncover the true resting place of Narmer, the first pharaoh of unified Egypt.
Countless horror movies have told us that messing with final resting places usually leads to badness -- ectoplasm in your hair, bleeding walls, that kind of thing. And if this weren't the case with the hunt for Narmer, well, Jeremy Logan's presence wouldn't be necessary. But, of course, enough does go wrong to require the special skills of an enigmalogist.
So why should The Third Gate make your summer reading list? Easy -- the shiver-inducing story is guaranteed to help you cut down on your air-conditioning costs.