Monday, November 5, 2012

12-21 by Dustin Thomason

For decades, December 21, 2012, has been a touchstone for doomsayers worldwide. It is the date, they claim, when the ancient Maya calendar predicts the world will end.

In Los Angeles, two weeks before, all is calm. Dr. Gabriel Stanton takes his usual morning bike ride, drops off the dog with his ex-wife, and heads to the lab where he studies incurable prion diseases for the CDC. His first phone call is from a hospital resident who has an urgent case she thinks he needs to see.  Meanwhile, Chel Manu, a Guatemalan American researcher at the Getty Museum, is interrupted by a desperate, unwelcome visitor from the black market antiquities trade who thrusts a duffel bag into her hands.

By the end of the day, Stanton, the foremost expert on some of the rarest infections in the world, is grappling with a patient whose every symptom confounds and terrifies him. And Chel, the brightest young star in the field of Maya studies, has possession of an illegal artifact that has miraculously survived the centuries intact: a priceless codex from a lost city of her ancestors. This extraordinary record, written in secret by a royal scribe, seems to hold the answer to her life’s work and to one of history’s great riddles: why the Maya kingdoms vanished overnight. Suddenly it seems that our own civilization might suffer this same fate.

With only days remaining until December 21, 2012, Stanton and Chel must join forces before time runs out.

With 12-21-12 only a few weeks away, the end of the Maya calendar is getting lots of press, which made this book even more exciting than it otherwise would have been.  And it would have been a top thriller even if the premise was entirely fictional.

Dave and I read this together and both give it top ratings.  My three criteria for judging a thriller/mystery are a bit of a balancing act:  pacing - keeps me anticipating the next page without feeling left behind; characters - enough detail to like who I'm supposed to like and hate who I'm supposed to hate without slowing down the pace with excess bios; and plot - complex enough that I don't foresee the ending too soon, but without impossible solutions or a peripheral villain that couldn't possibly have been predicted.  Not asking too much, right?

12-21 hits all three criteria - as did Mr. Thomason's first novel, The Rule of Four.  Highly recommend them both - and you better get reading, just in case. ;)


  1. This sounds good! I may add it to my to be read list!

  2. Great review! I also liked The Rule of Four. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  3. LOL, I like your "you better get reading, just in case" line. I happen to hope the world doesn't end 12/21 just for personal reasons since its my birthday, LOL, but if it does, it does :)

    sounds like good books both of them; I'll have to check out the author!


  4. timely thriller. adding it to my list.