Kosmatka follows his well-received debut, The Games (2012), with an exciting alternative-universe thriller in which scientists have discredited Darwin by proving that the Earth is 5,800 years old. Paul Carlsson’s childhood fascination with mice has led him to a career in paleometagenomics, the study of ancient DNA. On a dig in Indonesia, Paul discovers bones that tests show are far older than 5,800 years. This puts him in the crosshairs of his employer, the giant Axiom Corporation, whose aged leader, Martial Johansson, needs to keep evidence that threatens the status quo from becoming known to the public. Paul, intent on deciphering the genetic mystery, takes flight, while Axiom’s hit men pick off those around him one by one. Paul’s eventual capture leads to an Island of Dr. Moreau ending with all the attendant scientific horrors. Despite some strained logic and wayward plot threads, readers will gulp this one down and eagerly await Kosmatka’s next “what if.” Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (Apr.)
“A masterwork of intrigue and menace. I couldn't put Prophet of Bones down until I reached the climax…An eye-opening and page-turning read without parallel.” Clive Cussler
“Ted Kosmatka is both an excellent writer and a hell of a storyteller…Prophet of Bones is truly hard to put down. This is what a novel is about” Nelson DeMille
“Written with confidence, in a sure hand, the tension leaps from the page. All of the right elements combine--danger, treachery, and action. Buckle up, hunker down, and get ready for an all-nighter.” Steve Berry
“Prophet of Bones contains some incredibly tantalizing glimpses of hard science in a world constrained by theological received truth, and the detailed discussions of scientific methodology just add to the fascination.” i09
“A near-perfect blending of traditional thriller and alternate-reality scientific and theological fantasy… has best-seller written all over it.” Booklist, Starred Review
“An expansion of one of Kosmatka's most compelling stories…offers a good deal of fast moving fun.” Locus Magazine
“Gripping, dark, and well written…Kosmatka paints in broad strokes yet still nails the details…this is a compelling juggernaut of a read.” Library Journal
“An exciting alternate-universe thriller… readers will gulp this on down.” PW
“Prophet of Bones is what happens when you start with a foundation of Harry-Turtledove-style alternate-history science fiction, throw in some Dan-Brown-ian theology-tinged conspiracy theory, add a dash of Jurassic-Park-era Michael-Crichton-esque bio-thriller and top it all off with some Elmore-Leonard-y dark humor. The result is some truly unique – and uniquely awesome--classification-defying, boundary-pushing fiction, and I, for one, couldn't be more thrilled.” criminalelement.com
“Meshes realistic science with fast paced thrills…It will keep you guessing, straight till the end – and you'll love every minute of it.” gamesfiends.com
Gripping, dark, and well written, this alternate history thriller gets the highest possible BFD ranking: freaking awesome! Brilliant and introverted Paul Carlsson has known since his youth that earth is 5800 years old—scientists proved it in 1932, repudiating Darwinism and banning authors like Asa Gray and Nietzsche. Paul becomes a ‘bone guy,’ expert at paleometagenomics, a cross between genetics and anthropology. After an expedition to analyze a trove of mutated humanoid bones ends in disaster, Paul suspects there is more going on behind the scenes, something that would challenge the religious belief of three quarters of the world. He secretes a lozenge of DNA evidence for later analyzing (his hiding spot verifies Kosmatka’s mischievous genius), but his clumsy efforts to recruit help are discovered, and the shit hits the fan in a big way. He goes to ground, girlfriend in tow, hunted by the same dark force behind the expedition. But some of the pursuers are … wrong: “Huge and prognathic, thin lips peeled back from teeth like no human ever had—enormous canines, clenched down with insane intensity.” The story’s chilling dénouement sees the two captured and brought to a powerful, sinister old cytologist named Johansson, whose compound is “…the other side of the pay wall. Things beyond your wildest dreams. Things not exactly ethical.” Refreshingly merciless with his characters, Kosmatka paints in broad strokes yet still nails the details. Though the pace slows in the middle third, this is a compelling juggernaut of a read reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson and The Island of Dr. Moreau.
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This archaeological thriller from Kosmatka (The Games, 2012) has a promising opening that winds up as a dead end. In the first scene, a power-mad, messianic Prophet is murdered by his renegade followers. We then flash to the troubled childhood of Paul Carlsson, a sensitive soul with a violently abusive father and an ominous fascination for breeding rats. But no, Paul doesn't grow up to be the Prophet--in fact, the latter is never heard from again, so the opening scene is simply left dangling. Nor does Paul's tortured childhood play into the remainder of the book. Instead, the reader is dropped into an entirely different plot, in which the adult Paul--who has become a specialist in DNA research--is called to an Indonesian archaeological dig, where he discovers bones that seem to belong to a previously undiscovered, human-related species. He soon learns that he's working for Martial Johansson, a mysterious billionaire who'll do anything to keep this information from getting out. Johansson is doing his own sinister research, but it's never clear why he's so threatened by Paul's discovery--or why he would sponsor the dig when he knows what will be found. We don't even learn when the action is happening: The setting is an era when evolution has apparently been disproved and certain key scientific texts are banned, but there's no clue why or when. The book's climax finds Paul reunited with Lillivati, his college mentor and girlfriend, whose sex drive is apparently unaffected by looming threats on her life. Together, they face a series of deadly chases--first with Johansson's henchmen, then with crossbred ape/human monsters. But these events do little to advance a plot whose coherence has long since vanished into the ether.