Friday, December 4, 2015

Solving the Peking Man Mystery {+ Giveaway}

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THE BONE HUNTERS by Robert J. Mrazek - Thoughts in ProgressI’m thrilled today to welcome author Robert J. Mrazek to Thoughts in Progress to talk about his latest release, THE BONE HUNTERS, and a solution to the Peking Man mystery.

The award-winning author of VALHALLA, Bob follows up with another exhilarating archeological thriller in THE BONE HUNTERS (Signet Mass Market Original; December 1, 2015; $9.99). Both historically-driven and military savvy, THE BONE HUNTERS craftily meets fans of Dan Brown and Clive Cussler with this invigorating addition to the realm of action-adventure novels. Thanks to Bob and the lovely Roxanne from Berkley, I have print copies of both of these books to giveaway to a lucky visitor. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE BONE HUNTERS (Lexy Vaughan & Steven Macaulay Series Book 2):

      Peking Man—a 780,000-year-old fossil of the oldest known human ancestor—mysteriously vanished from its America-bound cargo ship during WWII. Now, in an effort to extinguish the rise of a new religion inspired by this priceless relic, the Chinese government wastes no time deploying ruthless military operatives to seek out and destroy one of the greatest archeological discoveries ever made.
      However, the Chinese government will not go unopposed in their ambitions. Retired Air Force officer Steve Macaulay and archeologist Lexy Vaughan return to team up with Lexy’s mentor, Professor Barnaby Finchem, and lead the United States government on a mission to protect the precious fossil from the wrath of an oppressive government. In an epic race against time, the trio must sprint around the world, weathering unrelenting obstacles—of both man and nature—in order to thwart their rivals before irreversible destruction is achieved.
      With plenty of shocking plot twists and historical nods throughout, THE BONE HUNTERS delivers the exciting entertainment that thriller fans crave.

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Bob as he talks about THE BONE HUNTERS and the Peking Man mystery. Welcome, Bob.

By way of background, I would like to point out some indisputable facts that form the foundation for this fictional story. In 1928, an ancient fossil was unearthed at an archeological excavation in Zhoukoudian near Peking, China. The Peking Man, as it was later called, was determined to be the first living example of Homo Erectus, or modern man. Scientists estimated that the fossil was nearly 800,000 years old and possibly our earliest known human ancestor. 

In late 1941 as the world came to the brink of the Second World War, the Chinese government decided that Peking Man, perhaps the most important discovery in the history of human evolution, was at risk of being captured by the Japanese army.

According to eye-witness accounts, the priceless remains were packed into two wooden crates at the Peking Union Medical College and put aboard a US Marine truck convoy bound for the U.S. Marine base near the port of Qinhuangdao in northern China. From there, Peking Man was to be sent aboard the S.S. President Madison across the Pacific and through the Panama Canal, the ultimate destination being the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Peking Man vanished enroute to the port city. He has never been seen again.

In The Bone Hunters, the mystery is solved.

I had a lot of fun writing this thriller. It is the first sequel I have ever written after eight stand-alone works of fiction and non-fiction. I very much enjoyed creating the three principal characters in the first book of the series, Valhalla. I reprise them again here.

Two of them are brilliant archeologists. Barnaby Finchem is a seventy year old Harvard professor with an active libido who is a mentor to the younger one, the beautiful but fiercely independent Alexandra Vaughan. The third principal character is a retired air force fighter pilot named Steven Macaulay who carries a lot of guilt and is in love with Alexandra. There is a lot of good give and take between the three of them, real character chemistry.

In the first book of the series, Valhalla, our intrepid heroes were successful in finding the burial tomb of the famous navigator Leif Eriksson—a Norseman who crossed the Atlantic in a longboat as a teenager—proving that he arrived in the continental U.S. five hundred years before Columbus. At the same time, they were also able to rid the world of a dangerous religious cult that had deified Eriksson and planned to genetically recode the human race.

In The Bone Hunters, I needed to create a new set of plausible and nuanced scoundrels worthy of doing battle with my heroic trio. I found them in a vicious Chinese oligarch billionaire and his malevolent son Li, who join forces with a seven and a half foot tall Bahamian former NBA star turned drug lord. They came alive for me on the page and hopefully will for the reader.

Both the heroes and adversaries are involved in a worthy quest: the hunt for Peking Man and the chance to solve the most perplexing archeological mystery of the 20th century, albeit for different motives.
The story plays out in a series of adventures on land, in the air, and under the sea off the Bahamas in a torpedoed World War II cargo ship. I hope it is as much fun for my readers as it was for me writing it.

Bob, thanks for visiting with us today and sharing this insight into this fascinating thriller. I enjoy how you combine all these elements linking to a bewildering mystery.

For those who aren’t familiar with Bob, here’s a little background on him.

Author Robert J. Mrazek - Thoughts in Progress
Author Robert J. Mrazek
Robert J. Mrazek is the author of the novels Valhalla, The Deadly Embrace, which won the W.Y. Boyd Prize for Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association, Unholy Fire, and Stonewall's Gold, winner of the Michael Shaara Prize for Best Civil War Novel of 1999. He is also the author of two works of nonfiction, To Kingdom Come and A Dawn Like Thunder.

For more on Bob and his writing, you can find him on the web at


This giveaway is for a bundle package of both THE BONE HUNTERS and its prequel, VALLHALLA. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Saturday, Dec. 12.
Valhalla by Robert J. Mrazek - Thoughts in Progress 
To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress The Bone Hunters Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decide for whatever reason you don’t want to win, once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Bob’s visit. Were you already familiar with the Peking Man mystery? What do you think happened? Are you a fan of archeological thrillers?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. The Peking Man mystery is a fascinating one, isn't it? And it's so interesting to speculate on what really might have happened. Thanks for sharing this one, Mason.

  2. Both real life mysteries sound intriguing. And I'm sure there are enough out there to keep Robert writing for years.

  3. I would love to read these books—thanks for the chance to win them!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  4. I bet the research for those books was fascinating.

    Do people still doubt that the Vikings found American first? What about the Indians? They were already living here, so obviously they found it first.

  5. Thanks for these captivating and fascinating mysteries. Intriguing as well.

  6. Thanks for these captivating and fascinating mysteries. Intriguing as well.

  7. Thanks for these intriguing and fascinating mysteries. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Congratulations to Robert. Sounds like a great book!

  9. I love this series and it's one of the only ones that has never disappointed me! I love the new book!

  10. I've recently started reading Clive Cussler and am absolutely fascinated. If he's similar, i'm sure I'll enjoy this too!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.