A group of American academics are schlepping across Peru looking for the existence of an ancient civilization mentioned nowhere in antiquity. Based solely on a hunch, they’re hoping to find evidence of a ruined city and a religious shrine ensconced inside a hollow mountain.
Local Peruvian authorities aren’t too happy about the expedition. As you’d expect, they’re hypersensitive to the mishandling of any found indigenous objects. And besides, they want a piece of the action for themselves.
“If you truly uncover a hidden temple,” explains the leader of the government’s security detail, “then we will pave a hiking path. An Inca Trail or something like that. People from around the world will come and visit. There will be hotels, restaurants and gift shops. It is a winning situation for both of us. We’ll let you publish your research papers … but the profit will remain ours.”
This so-called “winning situation” includes a tricky 160-mile hike across the southern tip of the Andes. The jungle is filled with dangerous flowers, predators, poisonous plants and deadly insects. A cute doctoral student named Annika doesn’t make it out of the tangle alive—she dies from a snake bite during a pee break. What a way to go. Readers take note: if you want to know how to safely pee in the wilderness, this is the book for you. Don’t end up like poor Annika.
The group of scholars and government agents eventually stumble upon their ancient religious temple—an enormous five-stories-high ziggurat nestled comfortably inside an abandoned copper mine. Unfortunately, they also stumble upon the temple’s chief deity: The God of Darkness. Otherwise known as the Decapitator. Time to get nostalgic and turn up your 80s-era thrash metal mixtape.
The Spider God is 13-feet tall and 30-feet long with segmented legs as thick as a man’s torso. It has the head of a jaguar (??) and wears a crown made of human bones. It’s a big and bizarre looking monster that’s been trapped in an underground labyrinth for nearly 200 years.
The search party is in trouble deep. They are totally unprepared to outwit the mad spider-beast in its own lair. Their combined dreams of fame and fortune evaporate with each grisly beheading. The Decapitator’s skull-crunching carnage is unquenchable.
But all novels have to end and all monsters eventually get their comeuppance. Ironically, the novel’s fiery finale takes place in the pyramid’s sacrificial alter. The Spider God dies on the floor of the temple erected in its honor.
[Temple of the Spider God / By Steve Metcalf / First Printing: January 2023 / ISBN: 9781922861474]