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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  14,039 ratings  ·  410 reviews
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, remo...more
Kindle Edition, 498 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Grand Central Publishing (first published July 1st 1999)
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Shelly Kotalik
This is the first Preston/Child book I read. After reading this, I have devoured every single one of their books since. It crackles with intelligence and suspense. It is extremely addictive and the setting is by far one of the most interesting and memorable, practically a character in and of itself. A must read. Plus they continue characters throughout their books, not all at once, but here and there. Smithback and Nora in particular from this book. I loved it!
Rick Ludwig
This the third Preston and Child novel that I have read and I enjoyed it very much. This one did not include agent Pendergast, but did lay the background for how Nora Kelly and Bill Smithback first met, prior to their starring roles in "Cabinet of Curiosities" . The story was continually exciting and had just the right blend of detailed archaeology and the hint of the supernatural. This was a straight up adventure novel with the details of the expedition exceptionally well drawn and the characte...more
Easily my favorite of all the books cowritten by these authors. I remember being absolutely hooked by this book, experiencing the adrenaline rush in real-time, the first time I read it, and I've reread it countless times since then. Perhaps I like it better because it doesn't have FBI Special Agent Pendergast in it (who has become rather unbelievable in the most recent Preston/Child books). As always with these authors' better books, the interwoven archaeological facts and level of detail are im...more
What a great adventure! A nice break from fantasy although it had quite a few elements common to fantasy in it. There was witchcraft, ancient mythology, bravery, treachery and travel. The research into the anasazi was thorough and exact as was the archaeology.
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Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child know how to scare the shit out of people.

I am a huge fan of Preston and Child. They have a way of writing thrillers that hit every emotion, that are unlike any other novel I’ve ever gotten my hands on, and they just plain make an impact.

Nora Kelly, an archeologist, receives a letter from her father who has been missing and presumed dead for decades. At the same time she is attacked by creatures that haunt her daydreams for weeks after. The letter tells of the le...more
The adventure is marginally higher than the suspense in Preston and Child's sturdy new tale of scientific derring-do, concerning a search for Quivira, the legendary Anasazi Indian City of Gold. The authors know what buttons to push and levers to yank, perhaps too well. The novel has a clockwork feel, from its first tick, the spooky stalking of archaeologist Nora Kelly on an isolated New Mexican ranch, to its last tock. Playing it safe, Preston and Child take no missteps as Nora finds an old lett...more
Nancy Oakes
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 no...more
This is an interesting story overall, and long. I think it would have appealed to me more in my 20s though. The biggest problem I have with it is that its believability suffers in part because of the story's pacing and partly because of the rather bizarre form of evil presented. A young, untested archaeologist manages in a week's time to be seriously attacked, get funding for potentially the biggest archaeological dig of all time, and line up the professional participants ... and they're off! Th...more
David Ivester
Earlier this year I read "The Cabinet of Curiosities", which a friend of mine found in a box at the Recycling Center and brought to me. In that book, "Thunder head" was referenced obliquely, so I ordered it. Like "Cabinet", this book is a quick read with no hidden subtext or symbolism, just a straight science-based adventure story. I found this book to be reminiscent of Tony Hillerman in its descriptions of the southwestern landscape and the utilization of Indian lore as part of the story. Also,...more
Barbara ★
This is the first book from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child that I absolutely hated. It is so boring and just plods along like it has no place to go. UGH!

Even the characters are boring and uninteresting: Nora Kelly, Peter Holyrood, Bill Smithback, Aaron Black, Roscoe Swire, Sloane Goddard and Luigi Bonarotti. There wasn't a pleasant person in the entire group. All they did was bitch and moan about the travel to the Anasazi site of Quivira. I thought all archeologists did was tromp from site to...more
A very enjoyable read. Though Pendergast is not present in this book, there is a good amount of back-story info on relevant characters pursuant to the continuation of the Pendergast series. This book would make an adventuresome/thrillseekers delight;on the edge of your seat type movie. The impressibly written perception of the dire state of environment/scenery would make a significant challenge to those responsible for bringing such impressions to the big screen. For those who have ever pondered...more
I really like the books by Preston and Child! This one is our first introduction to Nora Kelly who makes a later appearance in the book,
The Cabinet of Curiosities, while Smithback(from Relic) is back there's no sign of Pendergast. It's an interesting tale of Nora looking for Quivara, a Native American settlement that may have been the fabled City of Gold that Spanish explorer Coronado was looking for. I liked how Preston and Child link in a lot of Native American legend along with intersting fac...more
I knew I had to read this one when I saw it was about how Nora Kelly and Bill Smithback met. Since I know how the relationship played out, it was a little anti-climactic and bittersweet.
Still, an excellent stand alone book. You care about all the characters, even the slightly sleazy ones and there are some good surprises. Again, suspension of disbelief is big in all the Preston and Childs books, even one dealing in archeology. Gorgeous settings, this would make an excellent movie for the scen...more
Mitch Johnston
Love Preston & Child!!! After reading Cabinet of Curiosities, I had to read Thunderhead to get the backstory on Nora Kelly. Thunderhead should ideally be read after Relic and Reliquary, but before C of C's.

The level of research that these guys put into their novels is truly impressive. I've been to Sante Fe and visited the cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Park, but I'm now motivated to learn more about the Anastazi. Fascinating.
What did I enjoy about this book? It was set if the Utah canyon county. The story was about archeologists hunting for Anasazi ruins. Unknown enemies were trying to stop the protagonists from their goal, using fear, deadly poison, and worse to stop the encroachment into their territory.
It was a nail biter toward the end and great fun to read.
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!
Archaeology + suspense thrillers = my kind of book

Sometimes these type of stories can be really cheesy, but the authors definitely know what they're talking about here. It doesn't matter what is based on fact and what isn't, because archaeology is mostly speculation anyway. I really enjoyed this book.
I can't remember the last time I started reading a book in the evening and it was so exciting and intriguing, I kept reading long into the night, way past my bedtime. I may be sleepy at work today, but it was worth it.
This book was exciting from the first to the last page! The authors definitly knew how to keep a reader excited and reading! I read it in one day and absolutly enjoyed it!
Read this book several times---Loved it!
This is a very well written thriller---significantly above the average book of this genre. The research regarding the Anasazi and the topography of southern Utah shows through in the writing without being boring. The flash flood description is chilling. Throw in the treasure hunt for a lost city and gold, a bit of Indian witchcraft, and greed, and what you get is a thriller worth reading.

If you like the book , you might want to take a look at Louis L'Amour's "Haunted Mesa" for anther take on wha...more
3.5 stars. Anasazi ruins, Aztec gold, skinwalkers, corpse powder, Valley Fever, majestic, untouched southwestern setting, archaeological finds of the calibur of Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb and Schliemann's discovery of Troy, beautiful women, dashing men--really, what's not to like? Thunderhead is a great time killer of a read. It's suspenseful, and it taps into that wonder and sense of excitement that we all feel when huge discoveries from ancient times are made. This is not high li...more
Nora Kelly is a young archaeologist and an associate professor at a prestigious museum in Santa Fe. She lives a pretty boring life, split between work, checking in on her out of work brother Skip, and looking after the ranch left to her and skip after he died. At least they think he's dead; he disappeared after an expedition into the middle of Utah canyon country. Lately, however a series of events have made her question everything she thought she knew. Why was she attacked late one night while...more
Archaeology, lost ancient cities filled with priceless treasures, unknowable and unnameable terrors in the dark. . .this book has got everything I enjoy in a thriller.

Nora Kelly is an archaeologist at the Santa Fe Institute for Archaeology, whose reputation has already risen far above that of her father, a second-tier archaeologist who got lost on an expedition and never returned. However, one day, Nora finds a letter from her father, written twenty odd years ago, describing the route he took to...more
What a book... I read this as my 5th (8th, if inculding solo efforts) Preston & Child books, so I was already familiar with their style of tension-building, the twists 'n turns of the storyline and the occasional, probable (gruesome) death of many characters. After reading a number of books by the same author you'd think you've seen it all, but P&C have the gift to make every single book unique and can surprise you still from time to time, something which does not happen with, say... Bro...more
Red Heaven
A very good - yet somehow not great - book, dampened for me only because I couldn't keep the geography of the two canyons straight in my head, leading to much confusion as a character would go from one place to another unexpectedly.

I didn't quite enjoy Nora Kelly as much as in Cabinet of Curiosities, and Bill Smithback takes a much smaller role in this book. One thing that came off as forced was Kelly going from hating Smithback to falling in love with him in short order.

A nice thing about the b...more
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child- Thunderhead (Warner Books 2000) 4 Stars

Nora Kelly is attacked by two men dressed in animal pelts while visiting her abandoned ranch. She suddenly receives a letter from her deceased father that was addressed sixteen years ago. Now she is off to find what she hopes will being the greatest archaeological find since King Tut. The expedition will take them into the deepest and darkest parts of Utah’s canyons and just when she thinks she has found all the answers,...more
Of the five Preston/Child novels that I have read to date (Relic, Reliquary, Riptide, Cabinet of Curiosities and now, Thunderhead) this was by far my favorite. I find that their books have a standard formula and this was no exception. Preston Chuld books tend to have some or all of the following elements -- young relatively inexperienced lead character with promising career in front of her, older respected and wealthy mentor character, recurring supporting character(s) (in this case, journalist...more
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Although certain aspects of this story are somewhat predictable, there were a few surprising plot twists I didn’t see coming. Additionally, I have also always really loved the natural beauty of the American Southwest, and I really liked how the authors made liberal use of the setting. Finally, I also enjoyed learning about the history and the culture of the Anasazi people–I like feeling like I’m learning things while I...more
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Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, and grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. Following a distinguished career at a private nursery school--he was almost immediately expelled--he attended public schools and the Cambridge School of Weston. Notable events in his early life included the loss of a fingertip at the age of three to a bicycle; the loss of his two fr...more
More about Douglas Preston...
Relic (Pendergast, #1) The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast, #3) Reliquary (Pendergast, #2) Brimstone (Pendergast, #5; Diogenes, #1) The Book of the Dead (Pendergast, #7; Diogenes, #3)

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“Perhaps it’s not a matter of unimportant sites, but unimportant archaeologists.” 0 likes
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