Review: The Code Hunters – Jackson Coppley

Series: Nicholas Foxe 1

My version: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, action, adventure, science fiction-ish
Contour Press
First published: 2019
ISBN: 9781091070110
Pages: 405
Supplied by author

From the cover:
In The Code Hunters, an ancient tablet is discovered deep in the earth that sends an unlikely team on a mission that will change the future. Coppley introduces the reader to Nicholas Foxe, a wealthy anthropologist compelled to decipher the tablet’s code.

I loved, loved loved this book. It was just me. I literally could not put it down, didn’t want to put it down, ever – I read it in pretty much two sittings – well, I had to sleep didn’t I?

The blurb at the top isn’t giving too much away, is it? Let’s see if I can expand on that a little – without giving too much away. After caving experts, looking for a route between two underground (!) cave systems, stumble upon an unexplained metallic ‘wall’ impregnated with an indecipherable code (and what you’re thinking when you read ‘code,’ is wrong), they call in a leading anthropological expert (with deep pockets), to help decide what to do, how to proceed. Evidence of other ‘tablets’ turns up from other parts of the world, and as some of the early findings, and the potential of what the code may contain, leaks out, the race, the chase, is on to preserve it for the benefit of all, not just the few.

The Code Hunters is, to slip in a cliché, just to give you an idea of where we are, a Dan Brown – with brains. However, having mentioned the ‘B’ word, Code Hunters is a impressively plotted, planned and executed story and while there are a couple of rough edges to the writing here and there – I was just totally caught up, bowled over and have only now returned from hospital after having my eyeballs surgically removed from its pages. The setting and motivations of the main characters are believable and honest, the set-up superbly done and the ‘reveal’ intriguingly plausible. Another genre, I know, but maybe us Robert E. Howard fans will be thinking Hyborea when reading Code Hunters‘ explanation for where and who the tablets have come from. It’s on solid literary grounds, is what I’m trying to hint at. As I’ve said, I found the whole totally plausible and surprisingly – for this kind of thing – non-sensational – a major change from reading many similarly set books, which appear to just be based around a seemingly incongruous set of circumstances, or a breathlessly sensational discovery, that descends rapidly into a chase, led by a square-jawed man, and his beautiful sidekick. I’ve read lots of them. While being in the same ball-park as a lot of those Ancient Artefact Adventure (AAA) books, I felt The Code Hunters was much more sympathetically and intelligently handled, and therefore more convincingly believable, than others.

And the best part – it has left me gasping for more. There are questions I need answering aplenty: Who are they? Why did they leave? Where did they come from? Where did they go? Maybe you need to read The Code Hunters yourself, to properly get what I’m babbling about there. Go do it…

You can buy The Code Hunters from Amazon

Photo of code at the top of the page is by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

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