Friday, November 13, 2009

The Xibalba Murders - Lyn Hamilton

The murder of a renowned expert in Mayan history lures Lara into the jungles surrounding Merida, Mexico. For in this lush paradise are the temples of the Mayan gods--and the camps of modern-day rebels fighting to save their Mayan heritage. As the body count escalates, Lara must uncover the secrets of the Mayan underworld known as Xibalba--and the journey into the very heart of darkness.

I must admit that although the blurb seemed intriguing enough I only picked up this book because I need an X title for my A to Z Challenge. I thought that it would be a fun challenge but now it seems wrong somehow to spend my time reading books just because I need to strike out a letter. Having said that, it doesn't mean I wasted my time by reading this, there were good things and bad things.

The good things first, it was refreshing to read a book set in Mexico and about Mexican history. Since Mexico is one of the countries I would really like to visit in the future it would seem normal that I would have read some related books but aside from Octavio Paz I can't remember reading anything else on Mexico and especially not on the city of Merida. Maybe it's time to change that. It was also interesting that it was around archeological findings and Mayan mythology, at least it was novelty for me, and I liked the idea of someone getting a phone call from a friend asking to visit and then having to go on a hunt for clues to find the friend and what is happening.

My problem with the book was that I found the language very simplistic; there was no beauty in the dialogues or reflections, just a description of what was going on with vague attempts at humour. Also there were large chapters with information about Mayan history which I found interesting but seemed a bit out of place; they weren't fully integrated in the story.

Regarding the mystery itself, one of the villains was a surprise, and I liked the explanation to what was really going on. However I think there should have been more tension, more suspense than there actually was to make it a page turner, and the characters could also benefit from some character development. I didn't particularly like Lara, always complaining about the ex-husband, and couldn't really see what the men found attractive in her.

I see this as an interesting first effort, the historical research seemed good and I think the writing style can improve so I'll probably get to book 2 to see if there's some evolution.

Grade: 3.5/5


  1. I've been meaning to read Lyn Hamilton. She used to be our local library author in residence, but never got around to it. I'm not sure if I'll venture to try her....
    Is it worth my time?

  2. Does mexican culture and history interest you? Because that is the best part. I think I'll eventually try book 2 to see how I feel, the series actually appeals to me because each book is set in a different country and all that but I found this one a bit of a disappointment...


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