Long (Year Zero, etc.) delivers a suspenseful, tightly written tale of a nightmarish journey into the dark past-and present-of Cambodia's former killing fields. Molly Drake, a would-be photojournalist, accompanies a U.S. Army-led search for the bones of a pilot shot down during the war. She meets Duncan O'Brian, an archeologist at a local dig, and John Kleat, who has come back to the country repeatedly, seeking his brother's remains. When bones unexpectedly turn up, Molly photographs them, breaking her agreement with the army not to take pictures of bodies. The captain in charge dismisses her along with O'Brian and Kleat, and the trio make their way to an ancient, fog-enshrouded Angkor-like city where they have evidence an army patrol went missing years ago. They soon find themselves lost in a labyrinth of ancient stone, in circumstances that quickly grow as dire as those in which the patrol evidently found itself. Long's considerable knowledge of Cambodian folklore and history is put to good use as he superbly depicts the war-scarred country, its people and its beautiful, hazardous landscape-lush, verdant, strewn with land mines, studded by bones. Although the inner lives of the characters are not as detailed as they could have been, the author's use of supernatural elements is subtle and effective, and adds an extra dimension to this solid, coolly told, smoothly paced narrative. Agent, Sloan Harris. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Set in the former killing fields of Cambodia, this exciting archaeological thriller contains the plot twists and turns that we have come to expect from Long (The Descent). Freelance photojournalist Molly Drake has the opportunity of a lifetime: an assignment for the New York Times. Packing a new $10,000 digital camera and her camping equipment, she heads to Cambodia to photograph the efforts of an army recovery team searching for the remains of an American pilot downed during the Vietnam War. After Molly herself finds the pilot, she is banished from the camp, her Times story ruined. She and several civilians, also banished from the camp, follow a trail of clues in their own search for a missing Armored Cavalry unit. Deep in the jungle, they find a lost pre-Angkor city and more questions than answers. Once again, Long writes a fast-paced thrill-ride using history and artifacts to propel his story to an astounding conclusion. Recommended for most popular fiction collections.-Laura A.B. Cifelli, Fort Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A neatly tied, portentous thriller about a mission to find the remains of American soldiers-a mission that uncovers a lot more than their mortal souls. Photojournalist Molly Drake gets a chance to do some serious work-instead of the standard "photo feature about ski country plutocrats"-when a job comes up with the New York Times Magazine to cover a dig in Cambodia to find remains of a US pilot shot down years ago. Molly's got some emotional baggage, but it isn't as heavy as her new $10,000 digital camera ($10,000 for a piece of magic will seem a bargain when it comes to what the camera reveals) though the baggage will provide some fancy needlework by story's end. Long (Year Zero, 2002, etc.) keeps the tone somber and the style laconic, a tactic that works well with the nature of the undertaking and the gathering series of inexplicable images that appear on Molly's digital display: ghostly figures, "the morning people," come and go in the tropical mist; and a clear shot through water discloses a US Army helmet when all it should have picked up was the reflection of the flash. A creeping sense of dread, the strange weather, a cast of intriguingly repellent characters keep readers tethered to the story, as does the historical material Long uses to describe the lost city the team is led to explore. He gets his teeth modestly into the airy and exotic mysteries of the East, yet when the tale shakes itself dry, it's America that's got all the demons in its ratty closet of secrets. As ambiguities peel away, none of the characters goes unscathed, but the story gels and then gratifyingly dissolves, just like the specters of the morning. Too enthralling a landscape to be a heart of darkness, but thetale is gripping as it goes its merry, menacing way, shredding reality and body parts.