Cover image for Wake of the hornet
Title:
Wake of the hornet
Author:
Davis, Val.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Bantam Books, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
290 pages : map ; 18 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780553578041
Format :
Book

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Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

A mission to murder.... Fifteen miles long, bordered by pristine white beaches, Balesin is an emerald paradise in the blue waters of the South Pacific--and home to a bizarre religious cult. Since World War II, the people of Balesin have worshiped airplanes and the rich cargo they carry. Hoping to obtain the spoils of the modern world, they have spent decades trying to lure aircraft down out of the sky with a homemade airstrip and mock planes. But for those who know it, Balesin has an even darker side...one shrouded in a legend of death and cannibalism. For Nicolette Scott, an expedition to Balesin brings together her life's twin passions--archaeology and airplanes. But soon two members of the expedition are dead, and from thousands of miles away, a powerful noose of intrigue is tightening around natives and visitors alike. And now Nicolette's life is in danger too, as her research brings her closer to uncovering this strange island's long-held mysteries...secrets from the past that have the power to kill.


Excerpts

Excerpts

April 18, 1942 The North Pacific His wife was cheating on him. He could tell. It wasn't so much in what she said, but he could read between the lines. The time between letters was stretching out and she no longer included those little tidbits about her girls'-night-out with the other wives. The letters were still all about how she was spending his dough, the new curtains, the washing machine on layaway and how difficult rationing was. But she'd stopped mentioning what she did with her time. What did he expect? He'd guessed that she was a party girl, a tramp. They'd only known each other a few days before they got hitched. The war did that. It taught you to move fast and not ask too many questions. But still it rankled. He felt the anger rise up in his gut. If he made it back home, he'd take care of things. He didn't like being made a fool of. He folded up the letter. It was almost coming apart at the creases. It had been over a month since he'd received it and there hadn't been another since. He'd waited each time mail call had come around, holding his breath, waiting for the final insult, the "Dear John" letter giving him the brush-off. It might never come, he told himself. After all, she had a good deal going. She could spend his money and do what she liked. And if she was lucky, she'd soon be a widow. He thrust the thought aside. He'd been trained to kill, and he'd been trained to survive. The great aircraft carrier pitched and rolled but he'd gotten used to it. He turned over in his bunk to go to sleep. He'd need all his wits about him in the morning. If he had any sense he'd be afraid, but it wasn't fear that kept him awake. He had murder in his heart. July 12, 1999 The South Pacific Taking off, the Widgeon bounced from wave to wave for nearly a mile before one final ricochet sent it lumbering into the air. Nicolette Scott, hanging on for dear life, clutched the wobbling armrest of her seat and muttered, "Elliot, I'm going to get you for this." Although her famous father was seated right behind her in the cramped cabin she was sure that he hadn't heard. The roar of the seaplane's twin engines was too loud. The call from her father had come less than twenty-four hours ago. "Nick, this is your lucky day," Elliot had said without preamble. "You sound like you're in a tunnel." "I'm on a radio phone." "Don't you mean cell phone?" she said. "Where do you think I am?" She hated it when he teased her. Her academic degrees and all her years of hard work slipped away and she was a small child again, waiting for him to come home from some impossibly faraway place. In exasperation she said, "I'll bite, Elliot. Where are you?" "Do you remember me telling you about Curt Buettner?" Nick started to say no, then caught herself. Elliot and Buettner had gone to school together. Snapshots of the two of them filled several pages of Elliot's scrapbook. "Isn't he the one you call Crazy Curt?" "That's him. Only he isn't as crazy as I used to think." That wasn't the way Nick remembered the stories. One in particular had fascinated her. Buettner had faked the discovery of a Zuni artifact during an archaeological field trip, earning himself a top grade. But when his sense of humor got the better of him and he'd finally owned up to what he'd done, the instructor was too embarrassed to admit he'd been bamboozled and refused to change the grade. Shortly after that, Buettner inherited money and gave up grad school altogether to sail around the world. "Your stories made him sound crazy," Nick reminded her father. "He's come up with a theory about the Anasazi." "I'm listening." "First, you ought to know that we're three thousand miles east of Hawaii at the moment, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Floating off an island called Balesin, to be precise." "Elliot, I seem to remember you telling me not to call you for the next two weeks, that you were on deadline and didn't want to be disturbed because your manuscript is overdue. I think you also mentioned something about having spent the publisher's advance already." "If you were awake in my classes, daughter, you'll remember that my Anasazi started dying out during the great drought at the end of the thirteenth century. That's the accepted wisdom, anyway." "Has something changed?" "What if they didn't die out? What if they migrated?" "To where?" "That's where Curt comes in. He's been sailing the Pacific and following the trade winds for years. Sort of a Thor Heyerdahl with a yacht instead of a raft. Anyway, he thinks it's possible that the Anasazi abandoned the Southwestern desert and worked their way to the West Coast, where they built rafts and sailed away." Nick sighed. "Have you and Curt been drinking?" "Curt's gone legitimate. He went back to school and took his doctorate at the University of Hawaii. He even teaches classes there on cultures of the Pacific. That's how he happened to send me photos of a gourd pot he found in the Caroline Islands. It has an elaborately painted design that's quite reminiscent of late Anasazi artwork." "Are you telling me you flew all that way to look at a pot?" "Nick, it could have been important to my research." "Was it?" "Okay, so it's not Anasazi, despite the similarity in design," Elliot said. "But Curt paid my airfare. And I needed a vacation from that damned manuscript of mine." "Where exactly is this island?" "West of Borneo, north of New Guinea, south of Japan. You won't find it on your standard atlas at the moment, but we can change that, Nick. Together we can make the place famous." "Where are you really?" "Like I said, floating offshore." "On Curt's yacht?" "In a seaplane." Nick sighed. When it came to the Anasazi, her father had been obsessed as long as Nick could remember. In fact, her earliest memory was of her mother, Elaine, complaining that Elliot cared more about long-dead Indians that he did his own family. "Elliot," she said, "how does this involve me?" "We've visited the island, and there's more than gourd pots involved here." "Such as?" "Airplanes. World War Two airplanes." Nick caught her breath. She'd been in love with World War Two airplanes as long as she could remember. They'd filled her room as a child; they'd flown above her bed, suspended on nearly invisible black thread. And they'd helped her spirit fly away when her mother's black moods became too much to bear. "What kind of planes?" Nick asked her father. "That's your field, daughter, not mine. But it gets better. We've found a culture that seems to worship airplanes. Curt's mounting an expedition to prove his Anasazi theory. But he's also offered to fly you out as our airplane expert. If you remember, he inherited more money than sense." "The fall semester is coming up." "Do you actually believe that Ben Gilbert is going to reinstate you?" Nick had been placed on "academic leave" by her department head for becoming involved with a plane crash in the New Mexican desert. The fact that a highly placed government official wanted to avoid any publicity had prevented Gilbert from being able to fire her outright. However, the entire episode had prevented Nick from publishing any paper that year. Gilbert had leapt on that excuse to suspend her. Excerpted from Wake of the Hornet by Val Davis All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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