Riptide (novel)

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Riptide (1998 cover)
Author Douglas Preston,
Lincoln Child
Country United States
Language English
Genre Thriller, Science fiction novel
Published 1998 (Warner Books)
Media type Hardcover
Pages 496
ISBN 0-446-60717-7
OCLC 41576664
Preceded by Mount Dragon
Followed by Thunderhead

Riptide is a novel written by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston published in 1998 by Warner Books.

The novel revolves around a plot to retrieve the buried treasure of nefarious pirate Red Ned Ockham. The treasure, which is estimated to be worth close to two billion dollars, reputedly includes "St. Michael's Sword", a weapon with the power to kill anyone who looks at it.

The novel is pure fiction but is based in part on the legend of the Oak Island Money Pit.

The location of the pit, described as the Water Pit in Riptide, is moved to a fictional Ragged Island, a dangerous drumlin island approximately six miles off the coast of Maine.

Riptide is prominent among Preston and Child's works as being the one and only novel by both authors that is a complete stand-alone story, separate from their other works. No characters seen or mentioned in Riptide have any role in any of their other novels, unlike their other stand-alone works such as Mount Dragon, Thunderhead, and The Ice Limit.


The novel begins in 1971 and introduces main character Malin Hatch and his older brother Johnny Hatch. In search for something to do with their summer day, Malin suggests that the two explore Ragged Island, an island owned by the Hatch family. Ragged Island is strictly off limits to the boys, because of its ability to "destroy" those who come in contact with it. The Hatch brothers ignore their father's demand to stay away from the island and set off for it. Once the boys make it to the island, a terrible accident takes place, that Malin will struggle with for the next 25 years.

Twenty five years later, Dr. Malin Hatch is approached by Gerard Neidelman, a self-proclaimed recovery specialist (a euphemism for treasure hunter), who claims to know who designed the pit, and, therefore, holds the key to unearthing the treasure. Hatch is at first skeptical of Neidelman's claim, but at length allows him to dig on the island.

Once on the island, things do not go as planned. Mysterious accidents, illnesses and computer problems plague the salvage team, and it is discovered that the architect of the "Water Pit" is more clever than anyone realized.


The authors' first and bestselling thriller, The Relic, hit the lists in part for its clever exploitation of an extraordinary setting--the American Museum of Natural History. Just so, their fourth novel (after Reliquary) makes sprightly use of Nova Scotia's Oak Island and its notorious Money Pit--here transplanted to offshore Maine as the Water Pit on Ragged Island. The novel opens with a brisk recap of often fatal efforts over the past 200 years to recover a fabled treasure--now worth $2 billion and including a mysterious relic, St. Michael's Sword--hidden by English pirate Edward Ockham in the Water Pit. The difficulty is that the Pit, nearly 200 feet deep, was designed to flood and to kill through booby traps anyone trying to broach the treasure. Into this nifty setup steps Malin Hatch, returning to Ragged Island 25 years after his brother and father died in the Pit. Hatch is back as part of a massive expedition attempting a high-tech assault on the Pit. Brash melodrama ensues as expedition members suffer various gory accidents and as Hatch realizes that the Sword possesses a quality that may kill the entire expedition. The novel suffers from a diffusion of villains--the authors variously demonize the Pit, the Pit's designer, the crazed expedition leader and the Sword--and from workaday prose and assembly-line characters (a computer nerd, a sexy French archeologist, a righteous minister). Machine-gun pacing, startling plot twists and smart use of legend, scientific lore (including cyptanalysis) and the evocative setting carry the day, however, resulting in an exciting boys' adventure tale for adults that's bound to be one of most popular of the summer reads. Film rights optioned by Arnold Kopelson; foreign rights sold in eight countries; simultaneous Time Warner audio. (July) FYI: The mystery of Oak Island and its Money Pit has been detailed in several books (e.g., D'arcy O'Conner's The Money Pit, 1978). The Pit, target over the past two centuries of numerous failed expeditions costing millions of dollars and six lives, is variously rumored to contain Captain Kidd's treasure, Incan gold and even the Holy Grail.

—Review by Publishers Weekly[1]


According to an interview in 2003 with Douglas Preston, talk of a film based upon the book was in its beginning stages. As of 2008, the film has still not started production. No further comment on the film has been announced since 2003.


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