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Riptide
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Warner Books, 417 pages

Riptide
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have collaborated on three previous novels: The Relic, Mount Dragon, and Reliquary. Preston is the author of two non-fiction works, Dinosaurs in the Attic and Cities of Gold. His brother is Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone, which inspired Mount Dragon. On his own, Child has collected and edited a number of ghost and horror story anthologies, including Dark Company and Dark Banquet.

ISFDB Bibliography: Douglas Preston
ISFDB Bibliography: Lincoln Child

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Neil Walsh

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Although Riptide doesn't fall neatly into one of the SF&F sub-genres, it nevertheless can be placed with some confidence into the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. And, it's a book which I believe is likely to have an appeal for those interested in more typical SF&F. After all, who wouldn't be intrigued by one of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries: the Oak Island treasure pit.

The name of the island has changed, as well as its precise location, but there can be no doubt that this is Oak Island. If you haven't heard of this place before, the true story is both enticing and a little frightening -- and it continues to be (in reality, if not in fiction) a story without a satisfying conclusion.

In brief, some time during the 19th century, a couple of young boys playing on an uninhabited island off the coast of Nova Scotia (I forget exactly where) discovered what appeared to be evidence of buried pirate treasure. After some preliminary excavation, they came to the conclusion that whatever treasure might exist was beyond their ability to retrieve. Over the years, the story got out and a multitude of treasure hunters have tried their best for the last century and a half. But, in spite of conclusive evidence that something had been buried there, no treasure hoard has yet been retrieved.

The original pit was dug to a depth far in excess of 100 feet, and subsequent excavation appears to have triggered some maliciously ingenious traps. One such trap was triggered early on in the history of the Oak Island treasure pit, filling it with sea water apparently through underwater intake pipes. Although fortunes and lives have been lost in pursuit of this elusive treasure (whatever it might be), the pit continues to be a mystery. No one knows for certain who dug the original pit, what might be buried there, or how to get it out.

Riptide offers a fictionalized account of the final discovery of the mysterious treasure, including some ingenious and plausibly presented theories about who engineered the pit and for what purpose. The central character, Dr. Malin Hatch, is intimately connected with the mystery of the treasure pit. Not only has it claimed the life of his brother, but he also owns the island where the pit is located. Now when a representative of wealthy investors approaches him with a scheme to retrieve the treasure once and for all, he is reluctant... but tempted.

Written by the co-authors of The Relic and its sequel, Reliquary, the present book is another summer blockbuster (read "mainstream") novel. And, like their previous collaborations, Preston and Child seem to have written this book with a movie in mind. In fact, the film rights to Riptide have already been sold to producer Arnold Kopelson and 20th Century Fox.

This is precisely the type of book for which, if you wait for the movie, you probably won't miss out on much. This is not to say, however, that it isn't a good read. It's a fun, fast-paced, light read -- an ideal beach book.

Copyright © 1998 by Neil Walsh

Neil Walsh is the Reviews Editor for the SF Site. He lives in contentment, surrounded by books, in Ottawa, Canada.


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