Reviewed in the United States on July 3, 2021
Lost Contact is one of those old school seat of your pants thrill ride books, the ones like Indiana Jones, or books by Matthew Reilly, A.G. Riddle, Dan Brown, James Rollins, and so many more. That thrilling premise of an Archeologist, finding something special, and then going on a world wide hunt with a team to go and find it.
When an Author does something that has been done before, it really comes down to their Characters, the story, and the world building, how good is it, and how much it stands-out – and with Hystad, there was never really any doubt.
Hystad has a really fascinating story, his main characters, (Rexford ‘Rex’ Walker), Dad went missing several years ago, under mysterious circumstances, whilst investigating something. At the time, it left a deep seated desire in a young Rex to find out what happened to his Dad, and when we come forward several years in the story, we find an older Rex, having gone and earned an Anthropology degree, as well as becoming well respected in the field as an explorer. He is also a Professor at a University, teaching Anthropology of all things, but still wanting to know what happened to his Father, Dirk Walker. Also missing was his Father’s friend, Clayton.
Rex has a Sister, Beverley, who has put their Father’s disappearance behind her, having even gone through the process of having him declared dead, and having a funeral service and burying him.
Dirk was looking into a very mysterious set of objects (that I am not going into, so I don’t give away ANY spoilers), and, something called the Bridge, before he vanished with Clayton.
Rex has kind of given up at the start of this book, believing his Dad has disappeared, or Died, as it has been so long, without any trace. But when he goes to visit his Sister for Christmas, and finds a clue about his Dad, the whole hunt starts over. Rex finds help from a previous student, and now trusted colleague Marcus and much to his surprise, he discovers a rich benefactor from his Fathers past. As he and Marcus (His former Student), start the search again, Rex is approached by one of his Dad’s former colleagues, Hunter Maddison, an eccentric rich older man. Maddison is desperate for answers on several levels, and agrees to fund the expeditions.
I am not going to go into anything about the actual story from there, as I don’t want to give away spoilers, but what I will say, is that this is a book that once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put down. I had it on both Audible and e-Book, and got through it in a single sitting, I could not put it down, (was up to 3am listening to it to find out the ending!!).
It is full of mystery, intrigue, twists and turns, and things you just won’t see coming. Hystad has also put a lot of effort into creating this incredibly complex and multi-layered world, so that each aspect of the story has its own very unique background. Each Character has their own story, allowing for some really engaging story telling as Hystad tells the story of each of the characters, and who they are. It also creates this wonderful backdrop for the story to play out in, so that you are not only engaged completely in the story, and the characters, but also what is happening in the world building aspects of the story to.
The world building in the story is just exceptional, with detailed, multi-faceted information for each aspect of the story and as every layer of the plot is uncovered. This is a really clever story, in which there are multiple layers, hidden within other layers, and as you explore the story with Rex and his crew, you get to understand what is happening as they learn it to – there is not really a big picture in which you know before the characters as some stories do, and it really adds to the overall grittiness and authenticity of both the story and the characters.
What is really brilliant though, is Hystad keeps the world building layered with the story as well, so as bits of the plot are uncovered, it brings forth a wealth of information that you previously didn’t know either, told to you via a variety of different secondary characters in a very clever way. Hystad has done such a fantastic job of making this story as gripping as possible, whilst at the same time, providing us with a stunningly well crafted and beautiful set of backdrops in which to weave his tale.
As for the Characters, the central Character of Rex is just masterful, like a modern day Indiana Jones, with Marcus as not just his sidekick, but also his best friend. Rex is a really complex, fascinating character, he is alone, having spent his whole life, chasing after the mystery of his Father, who just vanished when he was a kid. Rex is not only intelligent, and likeable, he has this gritty intensity to him about the loss of his Father, and the circumstances surrounding it, the overwhelming need to find out what happened to his Dad.
With Rex is Marcus, a former student who used to help Rex out on various site visits, digs etc, and the two of them have become great friends, Rex acting as the Mentor to the younger Marcus, and Marcus being the solid stable figure in Rex’s life that he has always needed.
As the story progresses, the two of them come across a stunning array of numerous other characters, each with their own exceptional background, and compelling storyline. I won’t go into these characters, as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, only to say that Hystad is able to convey such clever, engaging and absolutely outstanding characters that you won’t soon forget.
The only other one I will mention is Hunter Maddison, an old acquaintance of Rex’s Dad, Dirk. Hunter knew Dirk from when they first attempted to find ‘The Bridge’ and he mysteriously disappeared, and to this day, his disappearance has also plagued Hunter, who is desperate to find him. The only difference is, he is filthy rich, and since he is both getting on in age, and with Rex’s knowledge, he now hopes there is hope of discovering what happened all those years ago.
This is a book that has all those wonderful elements from things like Indiana Jones, the Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, all those different types of books/movies in which you have that daring “Ologist” type who sets out to find the answers to some mystery that has been plaguing others for a long period of time, with no answers, but there are all these interesting pieces. It allows you the reader to become involved in the story to, as you try to work out what is happening, and you become invested with both the story and the characters. Lost Contact has some exceptional Characters though, and Rex, along with those travelling and working with him, quickly grab you, and draw you in.