12.21.12 by Killian McRae
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (229 pgs)
Rated: 5 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon
Archaeologist Sheppard Smyth has staked his career as well as the memory of his deceased wife and partner on proving his widely-panned theory: Cleopatra VII, the last ruler of Ancient Egypt, was murdered. When a statue of the doomed Queen is discovered in an Olmec excavation site, Smyth is drawn to Mexico to investigate and, hopefully, find the proof that has evaded him for so long. Soon, he finds himself in the middle of the rivalry between the sexy, bewitching international thief, Victoria Kent, and commanding, ruthless Russian mobster, Dmitri Kronastia.
Both Dmitri and Victoria hold pieces to the puzzle that will finally shed light on Cleopatra’s death. As Shep is drawn further into their world of ancient gods, supernatural powers, and alternative history, little does he know that the fate of all—even humanity itself—may hinge on his ability to discover the truth among their fragmented claims. Working to decode the true past while attempting to save the future, Shep becomes a pawn in the hands of forces working out a quest older than the pyramids—a quest that may lead to the end of everything when it all comes together on 12.21.12.
Sheppard Smyth, driven in part by sorrow and in part by the derision of colleagues, desperately wants to uncover the truth about Cleopatra's death. Was it murder? Proving it would be more than a feather in the cap of this incredibly earnest archeologist and a more than appropriate memorial for his wife. The question was, after all, what they had been working on; in fact, she had discovered something he had still not. And - annoyingly - a couple other people seem to have uncovered facts about his (His!) find, as well. He's not only on a journey; he is in a race.
In 12.21.12, alternative history twines with supernatural powers from the far distant past. Establishing Archeological ties between Cleopatra's dynasty in Egypt and the Olmec Civilization in Mexico's jungles will lead to the most important clue to the past - and possibly to the future. Sheppard is a stubborn man. He may also be a particularly clever and insightful archeologist, but stubbornness will help him most. He often falls back on that; in sorrow, in desperation, even in danger; when he doesn’t know what to do, he keeps on and on, doing what he does. That very human failing keeps him real; makes his increasing desperation understandable. And, somehow, it helps him doggedly persevere.
Others, on much the same quest, seem to have far less noble motivation. After all, archeological objects are often worth a small fortune. Just one of the people interested in his discoveries - a thief...or is the "assistant" named Victoria - is far too hot for him to handle, or so he continues to remind himself. He has to stay true to his task...but of course, their goals overlap and so do other rather more personal interests.
Various other characters, like the ultimately wonderful Hector Gonzales, evil Dmitri and others are a shade stereotypical; part of the background, to some degree. However, there are really no 'hieroglyphics' on the wall here: unpredictable is the name of the game. Warnings about the future combine with the dramatic backdrop, from the rugged roads and hurricane shelters to the sand-encrusted dig sites. The overall complexity increases with of a number of characters and motives.
Ultimately, everyone's fate might be in the hands long lost to the past. The quest may well uncover a future event, while trying to prove out what happened before.
12.21.12 cleverly combines a powerful plot with strong main characters for a real page-turner, no matter what genre you prefer. It's the best of mystery, combined with that character-building sense of tragedy, all overlaid with the promise (or is that 'threat'?) of romance. Well done and incredibly readable.