Cotton Malone is known for his overseas exploits. He’s a former-United States Justice Department operative, who retired from service early, and moved to Copenhagen where he now owns an old bookshop. His adventures have taken him to Europe (The Templar Legacy, The Paris Vendetta), Central Asia (The Venetian Betrayal), Antarctica (The Charlemagne Pursuit), and the Middle East (The Alexandria Link).
But never to China.
Until The Emperor’s Tomb.
Dispatching Malone across the Pacific was a big step. This was an area of the world I knew little about. So I did what I always do. I hit the books, finding about 350 sources and reading extensively about the 5000-plus year history of China.
What an incredible place.
Well over half of the world’s innovations originated there. Things like printing, the zero, the compass, the stirrup, the abacus, the seismograph, the rudder, the parachute, and masts and sails. The list goes on and on. But because of the country’s isolation, and the tendency of one emperor to eradicate all vestiges of the ones who came before him, the Chinese literally forgot what they’d accomplished. One Chinese innovation particularly struck me: their ability to drill into the earth. Twenty-five hundred years ago the Chinese discovered oil. They were drilling for salt brine but found a green, sludgy material they likened to animal fat. They discovered that it burned and they not only learned to extract oil from the earth, they also harnessed it as an energy source.
I was fortunate with the writing of this book. There is a wealth of information on both China and Qin Shi, its First Emperor (who is the emperor in The Emperor’s Tomb). His tomb has existed for 2200 years. A mound some one hundred and fifty feet high, guarded by a terra cotta army that sits in the center of the country. It is the greatest archeological site in all of China yet no emperor, or no government, has ever allowed anyone to enter that tomb.
Why not? That fascinated me.
So I sent Cotton Malone to find out.
Usually, I travel to at least one location in each of my novels for on-sight research, but that was not possible with China. That trip would have taken more time than I had available. A friend, Charlie Smith (the namesake of the antagonist from The Charlemagne Pursuit) made the journey, spending three weeks there. He returned with hundreds of pictures and a brain full of observations, many of which were incorporated into the novel. The great novelist James Michhtonener once said that you don’t have to visit a place to write about it, and he’s right. But I sure do want to visit China. It’s high on my must-see locales. While writing The Emperor’s Tomb I learned an awful lot about a part of the world that was heretofore a mystery to me. It was great fun creating the story.
The Emperor’s Tomb is published by Hodder & Stougton