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Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.

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Disease causes insomnia

Codex from ancient land may reveal cure

By Kurt Rabin

The Free Lance-Star

IT’S  December 2012, and the date the ancient Mayans believed the world was going to end is a mere two weeks away. In L.A., expert on rare prion diseases, Dr. Gabriel Stanton, is trying to get a grip on an outbreak of fatal insomnia that threatens to level the city and its inhabitants. Across town, a black market dealer has just handed a young Guatemalan–American researcher at the Getty Museum a priceless codex from the lost kingdom of the Maya for safekeeping. It might hold the key to why the Mayan empire collapsed, and why L.A. has  become a twilit zone of zombie sleepwalkers.

Dustin Thomason’s “12.21” looks like a Michael Crichton novel and is being marketed like a Crichton novel. And  like the novels by that late author, this one combines medicine with futuristic themes. Thomsason co-authored “Rule of Four,” the best-selling début thriller of the last decade, at  age 25. His first solo novel arrives eight years later.

Both he and Crichton attended Harvard and earned medical degrees, and both have written screenplays and created shows for television. “12.21” even reads, for better or worse—with its cardboard characters, wooden dialogue, unconvincing romance and use of hoary props like false documents—like a Crichton novel. However, like Crichton, Thomason knows how to tell a story and how to keep the action flowing.

If we’re lucky enough to reach the holidays, “12.21” will be a great gift for 12.25!

Kurt Rabin  is a copy editor  for The Free Lance–Star.


By Dustin Thomason

(Dial Press, $27, 336 pp.)


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