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The Explorer's Code: A Novel

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The secrets of an explorer’s journal lead a beautiful oceanographer and a dashing archaeologist on a heart-pounding quest. . . .

When renowned young oceanographer Cordelia Stapleton accepts an award on behalf of her greatgreat- grandfather—a famous Victorian polar explorer—at the dazzling Oceanographic Institute Ball in Monaco, she has no idea of the dramatic changes the night will bring. After the banquet, wealthy archaeologist John Sinclair presents her with a long-lost family...

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The secrets of an explorer’s journal lead a beautiful oceanographer and a dashing archaeologist on a heart-pounding quest. . . .

When renowned young oceanographer Cordelia Stapleton accepts an award on behalf of her greatgreat- grandfather—a famous Victorian polar explorer—at the dazzling Oceanographic Institute Ball in Monaco, she has no idea of the dramatic changes the night will bring. After the banquet, wealthy archaeologist John Sinclair presents her with a long-lost family heirloom—an Arctic exploration journal from 1908 holding the clue to a valuable land deed. The multi-million-dollar legacy is hers to claim, if she can find the deed. She and John team up for an explosive hunt that sweeps from the glamorous Queen Victoria ocean liner to a dig site in Turkey, from a beautiful old Parisian home to a lavish estate in the British countryside, culminating in the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Behind them every step of the way are a consortium of Russian underworld criminals, Texan religious fanatics, a sinister botanist, and a sexy American spy, all hunting for the deed . . . and all pursuing Cordelia.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“An intelligent thriller based on discovery, exploration, and real scientists….Wonderful characters lead us on a merry chase through some of the most glamorous and sophisticated places in the world. I learned a lot, and couldn’t put it down." —Paula Zahn

“What a page turner! I always knew Kitty Pilgrim could write down and report the facts. Now she has turned her journalistic skills and keen understanding of the world to pen an exciting novel. The Explorer’s Code takes you on a wild ride to exotic places filled with greed, intrigue, suspense and colorful characters — rich, beautiful people and villains worth hating. Oh - and the heroes are science geeks! There’s nothing more I could ask for from a thriller.” — Miles O’Brien, Science Correspondent, PBS New Hour

"Captivating characters, scientific intrigue, polar exploration, and romantic tension all wrapped up in a mad dash around the world that will leave you breathless! Only Kitty Pilgrim could so deftly bring together this story of Russian oligarchs, the 1918 flu epidemic, St Paul's letter to the Ephesians, the twisted roads of the Cote D’Azur, and the rarified air of the well-heeled into such a vivid and unforgettable novel. I could not put it down.".

— Christine Romans, CNN host and author of Smart is the New Rich

“Kitty Pilgrim crafts a rollicking good read in The Explorer’s Code, an intelligent thriller that races from one romantic and exotic dateline to the next, propelled by characters who are smart, sexy and sinister. A must read for anyone who loves adventure with a brain. Guaranteed to leave you chilled, breathless and demanding a sequel!” — Martin Savidge, International Correspondent, CNN

“By land, by air, by sea...Kitty Pilgrim spins a fast-paced mystery packed with roller-coaster ups and downs and an irresistible heroine like no other — Cordelia Stapleton.” — Nancy Grace, Television host and author of Destiny on the D-List

“I love a journey filled with adventure, intrigue and twists and turns. In The Explorers Code, Kitty nailed it. Her character development is flawless and in Cordelia Stapleton is an irresistible intellect and strength that draws you into each moment, page by page. You are just waiting for her to fall in love. This adventure surely doesn't disappoint! I'm already looking forward to what's next from Kitty!” — AJ Hammer, "Showbiz Tonight" CNN Headline News

"A masterful debut sure to appeal to fans of Iris Johansen and Sandra Brown." Carol Haggas, Booklist

"CNN correspondent Pilgrim's entertaining debut focuses on a classic theme: the search for missing treasure…(There’s) a whirlwind hunt from one exotic locale to the next…a storybook romance, odious and loathsome villains, Hollywood settings—it all works, providing a heady and highly engaging mix." Publishers Weekly

“By land, by air, by sea...Kitty Pilgrim spins a fast-paced mystery packed with roller-coaster ups and downs and an irresistible heroine like no other — Cordelia Stapleton.” Nancy Grace, Television host and author of Destiny on the D-List

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439197240
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Series: John Sinclair & Cordelia Stapleton Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 804,658
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.54 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Kitty Pilgrim has worked for CNN since 1986. She is the recipient of many awards, including an Overseas Press Club Award, an Emmy Award, and a New York Society of Black Journalists Award. She lives in New York City and Rhinecliff, New York, with her two sons.

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Read an Excerpt

Ephesus, Turkey

For the last hour, John Sinclair had been crouched over a fragment of bone sticking up from the earth. With a small camel-hair brush he flicked away grains of soil.

“Karl, take a look at this,” he shouted over his shoulder. There was no reply.

Sinclair stood and looked around the site. Ephesus was strangely deserted. The silent ruins stretched out for miles in the sunshine, and not a soul was moving among the white chunks of marble. Even the few off-season tourists had left. He glanced at his watch, dustproof, shockproof, and well suited to his work. It was noon.

He spent most of his time in Ephesus on his hands and knees in the dust, breathing it, smelling it, and—truth be told—worshipping the ground of the ancient city. He loved the palpable heat that beat down on his back every day as he worked, baking the soil, warming the ancient marble ruins. Sinclair experienced Ephesus through his senses: the smell of the dust, and the feel of the warm stones beneath his hands. The carvings were as clear to him as if they had been done yesterday. He would trace, like a man reading Braille, the Greek and Latin inscriptions on a wall, or the secret Christian symbols carved into the marble pavement.

In the ancient graveyard he would handle every bone fragment with a deep reverence, because for him these people were real, and this was a living city. When he walked among the crowds of tourists along the ancient streets, he had no problem imagining that he was walking in the Ephesus of Roman times, along a broad marble avenue trod by leather sandals and resounding with a polyglot of archaic languages.

Sinclair realized his passion for the ancient city bordered on the irrational. If he were a superstitious man he would attribute his obsession to the power of ancient ghosts. If he had a strong belief in reincarnation, he might conclude he was influenced by the memory of a past life. If he were a religious man, he would say God was calling him. But Sinclair was neither superstitious nor very religious; he liked to think of himself as a man of science.

Sinclair wiped his forehead, streaking a smear across his temple. His dark hair was coated with dust. The intense blue eyes swept around the archaeological site. No sign of Karl. He sat down, leaning against a warm marble slab, and closed his eyes to the Turkish sun. There wasn’t a sound.

He drowsed, and his mind roamed freely: first he reviewed his find of the day, a new femur, and the utter thrill of lifting it out of the ancient soil. As he relaxed, he recovered the sense-memory of a pair of beautifully curved buttocks cupped in his hands, and the way he could slide two of his fingers between them as he pulled the woman’s body toward him. Then he felt her beautiful legs as they wound around his back, her head tilted, goading him, her eyes half shut with desire.

The shrill pierce of a cell phone sounded. Without opening his eyes, he worked it out of the pocket of his cargo shorts and flipped it open.


A voice on the other end began speaking at a rapid pace. The pitch was feminine. He listened for a moment in silence, and his eyes finally opened and focused on the distance.

“Sure, I can work it out.”

The woman’s voice continued.

He answered. “I was planning on coming at the end of the week for the award ceremony, but I can come today if you need me.”

He consulted his watch. “I’ll get a flight this afternoon.”

The BMW R1200GSA Adventure was parked under the tree where he left it this morning. He put his notebook in the Zega side pannier, climbed on, and started the engine. The sound of the bike roared over the silence of Ephesus. Sinclair swerved sharply out of the dirt parking lot onto the macadam and followed the road uphill through an olive grove. As he left the dig, he scanned his cherished site. Random bits of marble stuck up from the grass like giant teeth, irregular and gleaming white. Only about 15 percent of Ephesus had been excavated, and the remnants of marble scattered around the fields were hints of more treasure to come.

Sinclair pushed the bike faster, and the wind cooled his face. He loved this ride. The road climbed steadily up into the arid hills for several miles. Across the landscape there was nothing but scrubby vegetation, mostly silver-leafed olive trees and narthex, a plant used in ancient Ephesus as a torch to light early church gatherings.

At the summit of the mountain, Sinclair pulled into the courtyard of a modest stone house and cut the engine. No other vehicles were in the yard. He walked to the door, unlocked it, and pushed it open. Inside, the single room was nearly empty: a neatly made bed, armoire, writing desk, and a couch by the window. He punched the sound system on the desk as he walked past, and the Baroque melody of Arcangelo Corelli’s La Follia filled the air. As he walked to the shower, he stripped naked, his uncovered flesh gleaming white in contrast to his deep tan. Throwing his clothes in a bin, he stepped into the shower and let the hot needles of the water sluice away the dust. He had to bend his knees to rinse his hair.

Sinclair stood at an impressive six feet four inches; his legs hinted of some extreme form of exercise; the muscles of his thighs were striated. An obvious guess would put him as a triathlete or competitive cyclist. But a closer look would reveal one thigh was slightly thicker, the telltale mark of a champion fencer. His broad shoulders had some bulk, but he carried no spare weight.

He finished his shower and walked to the phone naked, a towel thrown over his shoulder, dialed, and waited for the beep.

“Karl, it’s Sinclair. Sorry, but I have to leave for Monaco this afternoon. I’ll be back in a couple of days to help with the new quadrant. I think I just found a very nice femur there. Take a look and let me know what you think.”

The second call was to Charles Bonnard. Voice mail again.

“Charles, I’m heading to Monaco a few days early. If you’re still in Capri, don’t worry. There’s no rush; we can still meet at the end of the week if that works for you.”

He dialed again, and this time someone answered.

“Malik, it’s John Sinclair. Can you come pick me up right away? I need to get to the airport.”

Sinclair listened and then continued.

“It’s not a scheduled flight; I need a charter. Can you arrange it? Yes, for Monaco. Thanks, Malik, I’ll be waiting.”

Then he walked to the armoire and pulled it open. Nothing in the modest room would have given a hint of what lay inside: six immaculately tailored Italian suits, crisply ironed English-made shirts, dozens of silk socks, a rainbow of exquisite ties, and two rows of custom-made shoes. Sinclair pulled on a pair of Egyptian-cotton boxers and started to dress. Five minutes later he was tying his tie. When he heard the van rumbling up the hill, he scooped up his keys and tossed them into an earthenware bowl over the sink and walked out onto the terrace. If all went well, Sinclair would be in Monaco by evening.

© 2011 Kitty Pilgrim

Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California

Cordelia Stapleton unzipped her full-body dive skin, peeled it off, and flung it on the deck in a sodden black heap. Underneath was a blue tank suit. She could feel the ocean water evaporate instantly from her back, leaving the sensation of dried salt on her shoulder blades. Her dark hair was still wet, splayed like tentacles over her shoulders.

Dripping, she walked over to the bin of towels. She took one and rubbed her limbs vigorously, conscious of the deep tiredness that comes after swimming for hours. She massaged her leg muscles to warm them up. Cordelia was long and lean, and her body was well toned. The ocean currents served as her personal trainer, and the workouts were daily. She tied the towel around her waist into a sarong.

That was a good morning’s work. She had volunteered to be one of the two swimmers to retrieve the submersible. She and another diver had attached the tag line, to pull the Alvin to the stern of the vessel. The crew was now in the process of raising it up to secure it in the hangar.

She was not happy about the manipulators. The check of the robotic arms turned up multiple issues. They would need extensive repair. The whole thing was frustrating; those arms had just been installed two years ago.

“Hey, Delia,” Joel said, coming out on deck. “You have a phone message. The Herodotus Foundation called.”

“Never heard of it,” she said, taking another towel and drying her long hair.

“Well, they heard of you. They said they’ve been e-mailing you about an invitation for the last six months and you never replied,” Joel said, padding over in L.L.Bean flip-flops. His red shorts were faded to pink, and the logo on his shirt read WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION.

Cordelia took the pink message slip, trying not to drip on it: Charles Bonnard, Herodotus Foundation. 377 92 16 4738.

“Where is this? Where is three seven seven?”

“Monaco. Too late to call them back now; they’re nine hours ahead. I’ll remind you tomorrow.”

She didn’t answer. She tried to hand the message back to him, but Joel ignored her and walked away.

“They want you to come to Monaco to accept an award in honor of your great-great-grandfather,” he said.

Cordelia said nothing, staring at the pink message slip again.

“Hey, I had no idea you were related to someone famous. How come you never said anything about it?” Joel challenged.

“Most people haven’t heard of him.”

“What did he do?”

“His name was Elliott Stapleton. He was a polar explorer.”

“Are you kidding me? You are related to that Stapleton. Delia, he was huge, in what . . . the Victorian era?”

“Yes, but he made his most important expedition later, after the turn of the century—in 1906.”

“That is incredible! I had no idea you were related. So I guess the Herodotus Foundation wants you to accept his award. You have to go!”

Joel hoisted himself up to sit on a gear locker but didn’t break his gaze, which was magnified by his thick lenses. His skinny legs dangled down, and his flip-flops fell onto the deck and lay there like dead fish. He was the only man she knew who could spend his life on a ship and still look white and anemic. So typical for him to push his point like this. She ignored him, hosing off her flippers and mask, and setting them up against a gear locker to dry. When she looked back, he was still staring.

“Joel, I can’t go to Monaco. I have too much to do here.”

Cordelia didn’t want to tell him that she had been invited to lecture on the cruise ship the Queen Victoria directly after the award ceremony. The Cunard company had called her only last week, inquiring about her schedule. Cordelia had put them off, unable to decide whether or not to take them up on their offer.

“You have plenty of vacation coming to you,” Joel persisted. “Anyway, we are taking Alvin to the high-bed area for maintenance in another two days.”

“Yes, and I need to be here for that.”

“Don’t be silly, I can supervise that. You should get out of here.” Nothing doing. She was always around for the repairs—both major and minor. The maintenance schedule on Alvin was critical. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s deep submergence vehicle had regular three-month, six-month, and annual maintenance, which was done during the regular operational cycle while the vehicle was in use. But there was a major overhaul and strip-down every five years.

Cordelia always stood by as the engineers went over every bolt, filter, valve, and circuit. The lights were especially important. There was no natural light at the depths the Alvin descended, so the quartz-iodide-and-metal halide lights were critical in lighting up the ocean bed. Alvin couldn’t function without them.

“Joel, you know I want to be here for the overhaul,” she said, finally facing him down.

Just then Susan came out on deck and handed Cordelia an oversized mug of lentil soup. Cordelia immediately wrapped her hands around it for warmth and inhaled the fragrant steam. Thank God for Susan; she was always the voice of reason in any discussion. But today Joel sensed that Susan would not favor Cordelia’s argument.

“Susan, back me up here. Delia is telling me that we can’t take care of the overhaul.”

“Of course we can. What’s the big deal?”

“No big deal, I just want to be there when they do it, that’s all,” said Cordelia, starting to feel a bit cornered. What damn business was it of Joel’s whether she went or not?

“Delia, you should go,” Joel insisted.

“Go where?” asked Susan.

“Monaco,” Joel said to Susan. “She’s been invited for an award ceremony two weeks from now.”

“An award? You have to go if they’re giving you an award. Anyway, it’s perfect timing; the overhaul and strip-down will take at least a month.”

“The award isn’t for me. It’s for my great-great-grandfather.”

Cordelia handed the message back to Joel, put her soup mug down on a gear locker, picked up her skin suit, and walked to the railing to wring it out. She squeezed it extra hard, out of frustration with Joel.

“Delia, you’ve been working seven days a week for ten months straight,” said Joel, as he jumped down and reattached his flip-flops to his feet, hopping on one foot and then the other.

“So have you, Joel.”

I haven’t been invited to Monaco.” Joel looked determined.

“Come on, Delia. You can’t refuse to go if it’s an award for your great-great-grandfather,” Susan added. “Unless there is someone else who can accept it?”

“No . . .” said Cordelia. “I’m the only one left in the family. Except for a distant cousin in England.”

“You really should go. It’s not like Monaco is that hard to get to. You could be back in less than a week.”

“I guess I could check the dates . . .” Cordelia wavered.

“Look,” said Susan, “I know what you’re worrying about. I can take care of the manipulators.”

The clawed pincers on the sub were not extending to their full seventy-four inches. A critical component of the submarine, they were used like hands to deploy instruments and pick up marine samples.

“That one stern thruster is not right either,” Cordelia added. “We can’t turn the way we should.”

“I know. I’ll check all six thrusters. I promise,” said Joel.

“You have to swear to call me if there is anything major.”

“Hey, you can count on it,” Joel agreed, hastily.

“And, Susan, the pumps for the seawater need to be checked; the variable ballast has been sluggish.”

“Right. I’ll check it.”

“It’s decided then,” Joel said, walking away quickly, his flip-flops flapping against his heels. Cordelia glared after him. She wanted to clobber him.

He stopped and turned back. “Oh, I just remembered, you have another message. I forgot to write it down. Your lawyer in New York—Jim Gardiner. He says to call him, it’s urgent.”

© 2011 Kitty Pilgrim

Villa San Angelo, Anacapri, Capri, Italy

Charles Bonnard looked away from the majestic view of the sea and saw the light blinking on his cell phone. He retrieved it from the stone parapet and sat down in the alcove. After looking at the water, his eyes had to adjust to the shade. It took a moment to register the number of the missed call.

John Sinclair’s international cell number—that was odd. They weren’t supposed to talk until the end of the week. He pressed the voice-mail retrieve button and listened.

“Charles, I’m heading to Monaco a few days early . . .”

Sinclair was going back to Monaco already? There could only be one reason: a five-foot-eleven, 118-pound bundle of destruction named Shari. What stunt could she be pulling now? Poor guy. Sinclair sure knew how to pick them—each one worse than the last.

Charles sighed and walked back into his house. He had better go meet Sinclair. But he really didn’t want to go back to Monaco and leave this little piece of paradise.

Villa San Angelo was built high into the hills of Capri and stood apart from the mayhem of the fashionable and famous down below. While the glitterati enjoyed their international watering holes in town, above them on the hillside Charles gloried in monastic isolation. Three hundred meters above the sea, his villa claimed the spectacular views that had been enjoyed by the ancient Romans when they built upon this spot. Charles had planted the Mediterranean garden out back. With his own hands, he had unearthed bits of Roman artifacts buried in the soil. Those marble fragments now held places of honor on the walls of the villa.

He walked into his bedroom to pack. The Villa San Angelo’s beautiful whitewashed rooms had the pure décor of a monastery. It dated back to the late nineteenth century. When he first bought the house, the locals had repeated the legend of an angel who had been seen sitting on the cliff side looking out to sea. It was his favorite place in the world, and the parapet was built on that spot, with a glorious view of the Bay of Naples.

He sighed. It was always hard to leave. He finished putting a few things in a duffel and looked around the room one last time before closing the door. In the town square, Charles just managed to catch the local bus down to the harbor. He took a seat for the death-defying ride along the cliffs and considered his plans. He had better get to Monaco as soon as possible. He had a strong suspicion it wasn’t going to be pretty.

The bus had nearly reached the village below when he remembered Brindy’s luncheon tomorrow. He’d have to make a quick stop to apologize. The contessa Giorgiana Brindisi wasn’t going to like it that he was not coming to her little party. And she would be furious when she found out the reason he couldn’t come—it was because of John Sinclair.

© 2011 Kitty Pilgrim

Hotel Metropole, Monaco

John Sinclair leaned over the balustrade of the Hotel Metropole. It was a gorgeous day. The breeze was blowing, the megayachts were bowing to one another in the marina, and the sunlight was sprinkling the sea with diamonds. At 1 p.m., Sinclair was still in his robe and unshaven. His head was pounding from a massive hangover, and the sunlight was searing his corneas.

God damn it, Shari. He remembered how she had looked last night. The breathtaking beauty of her as she walked into the terrace restaurant. Her white silk dress flowing around her magnificent body. She was ethereal. Golden hair was piled on top of her head, wound around with silver ribbons like an ancient Greek deity. He had become accustomed to her beauty. But last night he had been staggered.

What a fool. He had been kidding himself for months. Actually, he should have known it wouldn’t work out a year ago, when she turned up at the dig wearing those ridiculous shoes. Shari had teetered on four-inch heels along the ancient marble street, trailed by paparazzi. It had been a surprise visit. He had been supervising the excavation with Karl and Fabian. The three of them had been thunderstruck when she turned up. Fifteen screaming photographers kept shouting, “Look this way, Shari!!!! Look this way!!”

Sinclair was disgusted with himself. He had always been annoyed by the headlines: “Beauty and the Geek,” “Supermodel Digs Archaeologist.” He had lied to himself about it. Told himself it wasn’t all that bad. He had ignored the telltale signs the whole time.

At first she had seemed to like the way he lived. She even tried to read his archaeological articles and academic papers. After all, she wasn’t stupid. He was flattered. So he had made the effort to adjust to her world. Gradually he had become used to the idea of her celebrity. He had come to enjoy going out with her, spending time on a friend’s yacht or lounging by the pool and having lunch in one of the lavish Côte d’Azur villas. Her friends were silly and amusing. It was always perfectly pleasant, and a great diversion—even if he sometimes felt he didn’t always get the jokes, or didn’t seem to enjoy them as much as the others did.

Sinclair turned toward the beautiful coastline. The view was lost on him. He was consumed with introspection—trying to be realistic, and honest with himself.

He leaned on the railing of the balcony to ease his back. Come to think of it, being with Shari hadn’t been all that great lately. They had been irritable with each other. Not always, but plenty of times. And she did demand a lot. Of course, the sex was incredible. He could put up with a lot to keep that going. He closed his eyes, remembering her lithe body under his, her gold hair splayed all over the pillow.

But last night had been the last straw. What an awful scene. Never in his life had he fought in public like that. He had lost all control. And God knows she did too. Sinclair winced at the thought of it.

He could see where he had made his big mistake. It was thinking he was in love with her and would eventually marry her. He had believed she was going to tell him good news when she had called yesterday.

“I have something very important to tell you,” she had breathed over the phone in that tiny little voice. He had been in the middle of the dig, but he had left immediately at her call. No questions asked.

He actually thought that when he got to Monaco she would tell him she was expecting his child. He had spun quite a pretty picture as he sat on the plane from Turkey. Sinclair shook his head in disgust. He had even been hoping for a boy.

Well, that conversation had turned into a disaster. Oh, she had a new baby all right, but the Brazilian Formula One driver wasn’t quite what Sinclair had in mind.

© 2011 Kitty Pilgrim

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 19 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2011


    I have traveled on a cruise to the places talked about in this book and I can picture everything I am reading. It makes me feel like I'm right there. It's a book you just do not want to put down and go to sleep. I am so interested in the story and just can't wait to read more. I really am enjoying every single page. This is such an interesting book !!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 6, 2011


    "Award-winning CNN journalist Kitty Pilgrim turns her talents to print in The Explorer's Code, an exciting international thriller that revolves around the quest for a land deed valuable enough to kill for. When the renowned young oceanographer
    Cordelia Stapleton receives an invitation to accept an award on behalf of her great-great-grandfather, a famous Victorian polar explorer, she has no idea her life is about to change dramatically"

    When one reads a debut novel, especially one by a public figure, there is always a feeling of the unknown. Is this book published due to its merits or the fame of its author? I am happy to report that The Explorer's Code by former CNN anchor Kitty Pilgrim is very much falls into the latter category. The Explorer's Code is quite simply a magnificent book, one that rockets Ms. Pilgrim into the upper echelon of novelists.

    It would be easy to pigeon-hole The Explorer's Code as just a "thriller" but that would be greatly unfair. This is a book that certainly is a superb international thriller, with the reader glued to the action, but it is so much more. The plot, sub-plots and array of characters and locations that Ms. Pilgrim expertly paints with words transports the reader into a veritable literary journey. While Ms. Pilgrim has certainly traveled extensively during her CNN career, it is one thing to visit a place and quite another skill to be able to put that location into such exceptional words that the reader feels as if they are actually there- in Monaco, Turkey, England ect.
    There is little doubt that Ms. Pilgrim has this "word picture" skill in abundance!

    Cordelia Stapleton and David Sinclair, the main protagonists in the novel are far from your stereotypical characters. Each has been made so real, with all the human strengths and weaknesses that we all have, courtesy of the superb literary skills of Ms. Pilgrim. We, the readers, feel a real connection to them and their plights, something few authors can attain. The many other characters, Russian Criminals, Texas Fanatics and especially a fascinating and quite intriguing botanist are all equally well done. This is a novel with many characters- yet the reader is never overwhelmed because Ms. Pilgrim is able to make each an individual- another rare and quite amazing feat for a debut writer.

    The main plot- a deed for a Global Seed Vault in Norway- contained in
    a long ago written Journal- which disappears- and places Cordelia in peril (I do not want to go into too much detail as the plot contains so many ingenious twists and turns- I fear saying anymore will spoil it for the reader!!) and which brings David Sinclair into her life, is so very original. The subplots, British Virologists, Genomes, the 1918 Influenza Pandemic,the previous mentioned characters and a sexy American spy - all in search of that mysterious and missing deed,make this a true page-turner in every sense of the word. Why is the deed so terribly sought? That I will leave to the reader to find out- needless to say- the conclusion is a knockout!!

    Kitty Pilgrim should be quite proud of this achievement. After reading The Explorer's Code - she will never only be thought of as a former CNN journalist- her resume will read KITTY PILGRIM- FIRST RATE WRITER!!



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Bad Use of Language

    Sounded like a good summer read, exciting story and looked to be well told. So I downloaded the preview. But, by page 48, Ms. Pilgrim decided to use God's name vainly, for no purpose. She's fallen into the same trap as Hollywood, not being able to tell a story without being profane. Too bad Kitty, I would have thought you had the potential for something much better than that.

    After filing this review, I will delete this book from my library.

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Started out strong, but towards the end it went flat.

    I really liked this book at the beginning, I was really into the characters and setting of the story and everything seemed to be moving along at a great speed. Then around the last hundred pages, the story to me seemed to change, I lost focus on the story and it seemed like the author was running out of ideas. It seems she just throw anything in there to finish it and she forgot to give an ending to a main point of her story. And I started to lose the love I had for the two main characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    This was a great read. Suspenseful,romantic and great history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2011

    Excellent Read

    I never write reviews BUT I do read them and this is a greaat book.
    I have been to these places over seas and also on a cruise and that's why I bought the book. I did enjoy it very much .... I really am very
    careful buying a book ..... I want lots of pages and a page turner .... that's what I got and I am pleased I bought it and I think others will enjoy it also. Read the sample then make up your own mind. Good Reading

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Strong Locales and Sense of Place Undone by Poor Plot

    Author Kitty Pilgrim does a terrific job setting up the locations within her debut novel " The Explorer's Code". While I've never been to Monaco, Turkey or the English countryside, Pilgrim is at her best in establishing the locales for mystery-adventure, and connecting the reader to these beautiful locations. One will pick up a strong sense of the mystery and allure of a Turkish bazaar, and the outrageous wealth and glamour of the Monaco coastline.

    Unfortunately, the thin plot and inconsistent characterizations weaken a promising book.

    I really wanted to like it. The story was right up my alley and it seemed like a terrific summertime beach-read. Pilgrim spends a lot of time on vapid dialogue, without providing strong enough emotional associations between characters and readers. The plot is interesting, but 1/3 through the book feels more tv-movie-of-the-week rather than blockbuster, and it was clear 2/3 of the way through that there would be no strong finish.

    If you're looking for something very lightweight, this might not be a bad choice. The book really isn't's just not very good.

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  • Posted July 21, 2011


    Writer did not bring closure to the story line about the 1918 flu panademic. Was it still out there? Disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2011

    Perfect for my book club!

    Kitty Pilgrim really got this one right! (perfect for my book club) The action never stops. Reading at night, I had to MAKE myself put it down and turn out the light. The ending at the Global Seed Vault is so breathtaking, I read the last 50 pages all at once! When is the next one coming out? Can't wait.

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