cover image The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

Douglas Preston. Grand Central, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4000-6

Novelist Preston’s irresistibly gripping account of his experiences as part of the expedition to locate an ancient city in the Honduran mountains reads like a fairy tale minus the myth. “There was once a great city in the mountains,” he writes, “struck down by a series of catastrophes, after which the people decided the gods were angry and left, leaving their possessions. Thereafter it was shunned as a cursed place, forbidden, visiting death on those who dared enter.” In 2012, Preston was present as the expedition team attempted to use light detection and ranging technology to identify the city’s location in the uncharted wildernesses of Honduras; they “[shot] billions of laser beams into a jungle that no human beings had entered for perhaps five hundred years.” The effort succeeded in locating two large sites, apparently built by the civilization that once inhabited the Mosquiteria region. The discovery led to a return trip in 2015 to explore the sites on foot, a physically and emotionally draining experience that resulted in remarkable archeological finds, specifically a cache of stone sculptures. Preston, author of The Monster of Florence and co-author with Lincoln Child of the bestselling thriller series featuring FBI agent Pendergast, brings readers into the field while enriching the narrative with historical context, beginning with 16th-century rumors of the city’s existence reported by explorer Hernán Cortés after his conquest of Mexico. Along the way, Preston explains the legendary abandonment of the City of the Monkey God and provides scientific reasoning behind its reputation as life-threatening. Admirers of David Grann’s The Lost City of Z will find their thirst for armchair jungle adventuring quenched here. (Jan.)