Black Rain is terrific summer reading fodder that fits squarely in the realm of the lighter-weight Dan Brown-esque genre of tech-thrillers. Other leaders of this genre include James Rollins and Jeremy Robinson, whose stories are a bit formulaic and their characterizations often thinly built.
Graham Brown, however, brings new energy. His core plot involves the Mayan creation myth called “Popul Vuh.” After having discovered several crystals that suggest the existence of a tremendous new energy source, a semi-secret non-governmental organization goes to Brazil to find their source.
Brown picks apart certain stories from “Popul Vuh” and develops historic explanations for their origins as his team of ex-military and researchers uncover clue after clue surrounding the origin of the crystals. Black Rain contains government conspiracies, hidden jungle pyramids, helicopters and big guns, war-ready natives, and monstrous animals. It also contains a tease of science fiction which nicely sets a tone for the rest of the HAWKER & LAIDLAW series.
Brown captures the texture of Brazil including the jungle-embedded pyramid and the centuries-old tribe that endures its ancient lifestyle. Brown paces each new clue, each newly unraveled mystery at a solid and steady pace. There was very little plot disclosed without a reasonably good rationale. And there was very little mystery solved without it fitting in well with the rest of the tone, texture and pacing of the rest of the story.
The story of Black Rain isn’t deep enough to warrant a 4-star rating, but it’s better than many supernatural thrillers. If you enjoyed the opening sequence of the original Indiana Jones films, then imagine a full book’s worth of that style of adventure and you have a decent preview of what you’ll get.
Here are the sequels, as of June 2016: