The Scorpion’s Tail (Corrie Swanson and Nora Roberts Book 2)
Preston & Child
Grand Central Publlishing
January 12th, 2021
The Scorpion’s Tail by Preston & Child is an intriguing story. It is a welcome relief since it can be classified as a modern-day western with shoot-outs and a cowboy sheriff.
“We wrote Sheriff Watts as Roy Rogers at the age of twenty-five, Corrie’s age. Movie star handsome even with parts of both ears shot off. He has this awesome cowboy hat that covers all the damage and two Colt gun peacemakers inherited from his grandfather. He is a sharpshooter and can be considered easy going until someone crosses his line. We hope the shoot-out scene is realistic with the good guys overpowered by the number of bad guys. We wrote it as a David versus Goliath with the two good guys versus the nine bad guys.”
The essence of the plot begins with newbie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson assigned to a case that appears to be a throw away. A mummified corpse, over half a century old, is found in the cellar of an abandoned building in a remote New Mexico ghost town. She brings archaeologist Nora Kelly to excavate the body and lend her expertise to the investigation, and together they uncover something unexpected and shocking: the deceased apparently died in agony, in a fetal position, skin coming off in sheets, with a rictus of horror frozen on his face. Hidden on the corpse is a 16th century Spanish gold cross of immense value.
Corrie has come a long way from when she was first introduced. Basically, a rebel without a cause. She was a teenager angry with everything including herself. Special Agent Pendergast turned her around and got her interested in law enforcement. Now she is doing her two-year probationary period in New Mexico as she learned to channel that anger and vast intelligence into solving cases. She is growing. But because the FBI is still male dominated, she encounters backlash because she is capable, strong, and competent. There is always the question, since she is a woman, how is she going to react to pressure. She pushes back on that male mentality.”
It is interesting how the authors are able to connect a Wild West mining ghost town with the halls of government bureaucracy to the grounds of the White Sands Military Reserve, the site of the infamous Trinity nuclear test.
“The cite in New Mexico is where the nuclear bomb was created. There is still atomic glass around the cite if you look closely. But do not pick it up and put it in your pocket or you might grow two heads because it is still radioactive. This was the perfect spot for the story. Regarding the ghost town, it is based it on a privately owned town in New Mexico called Cabezon. It is incredibly well preserved as is Guadalupe with its two-story hotel made out of adobe. The ghost town in the story, High Lonesome is a typical ghost town where the buildings were preserved and picturesque, almost like a movie set.”
As with all their books the stories are always original and involve some kind of conspiracy. This book is no different.