INCA'S DEATH CAVE by Bradford G. Wheler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Info Dumps R'Us
I like history … and I like action/adventure stories, especially ones that have history as a backdrop. That is what I thought this was. This story is more like a history textbook with some action/adventure in the background. I appreciate the well researched details; but I didn’t need to know all that to enjoy this “thriller." Even so, using wikipedia style info dumps to present ancillary context and detail is a rookie mistake; especially when a lot of this doesn’t seem to actually advance anything in the story. It might be more interesting to those readers that enjoy historical trivia and travelogues. In addition, the simple, and often limited, dialog interspersed amongst the extensive narration was made even more awkward and unnatural by the frequent use of I said, s/he said, etc. (even when not needed by the poor character voice differentiation).
Ok … so we have an archeology professor and his research assistant sent to Peru to do a little historical investigation looking for the proverbial treasure of the Inca’s Death Cave. Unfortunately … the story is actually a little too true to form here as the initial setup is extremely long and boring while the team works to digitize the relevant conquistador records. I suppose that it is natural to make the Catholic Church one of the boogeymen in story; queue the typical critiques and moralizing on why the Vatican is evil. Despite the opinionated preachiness, the basic underlying facts were pretty accurate even as interpretation leaves something to be desired and the Vatican is redeemed in the end (as a non sequitur). It a multi prong effort, there is also some data mining and programming hijinks (aka hacking) and some sensor drone mapping to identify probably locations for the cave … and about as exciting as watching paint dry. I mean, it was interesting from an academic point of view, just not a thriller yet. In the mean time, let’s bring in a total unrelated conflict with a drug cartel so that we can shoot at our heroes (which is basically the only action/conflict of the story). Finally … the end comes up quickly and is pretty much anticlimactic with an epilogue to fill in the happily ever after expectation. Over all, this is a very simple story that would probably only appeal to those with an interest on that specific time and location.
I was given this free advance review/listener copy (ARC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.