Indiana Jones and the Genesis Deluge

I started reading this series back in 2016, when our family took a trip to Disneyland. Getting to ride the Indiana Jones ride again (for the first time since 1995!), popped back into place a love I have for this character and his particular brand of pulp adventures. I vowed I’d read all the novels, starting with a couple I had back when I was younger but, for some reason, never touched.

Indiana Jones and the Genesis Deluge is the 4th book in the series, started by Rob MacGregor. Like the others, this one takes place before the events in the movies, detailing Indy’s early years as an archaeology professor and his first adventures.

It’s Spring of 1927. Indy returns to his university in London, after the perilous events of the previous book (Indiana Jones and the Seven Veils). His wife, Dierdre Campbell, died tragically in the jungle, and Indy is… not in a good place. He snaps at students and walks around in a daze. When told that an academic review board is having second thoughts about his qualifications to teach Celtic History (his expertise so far), he decides to quit his job and go reconnect with his friend from college, Jack Shannon. But Shannon’s family is involved in mafioso dealings, and business is booming during the Prohibition, leaving Shannon a bit jumpy and prone to drive-by shootings and getting arrested.

Thankfully, Indy’s approached by a Russian doctor who, during WWI, came into possession of some information pertaining to the site of Noah’s Ark. He needs someone between jobs and with some experience in archaeology digs — and Indy is perfect!

Cappadocia, which I’d never heard about until reading this book, is hands-down a great setting for an Indiana Jones adventure!

Along with the doctor’s gorgeous (of course!) daughter, Katrina, Indy sets out to Turkey to locate the site. He brings Jack Shannon along with him to keep his friend out of trouble. In the cave city of Cappadocia they get entangled with a mysterious group that seems bent on stopping them at all costs, not to mention troublesome agents from the Kremlin and even local bandits.

I won’t give away too much of the ending, though I was a little disappointed. There was a lot of build-up toward the final reveal, and most of the book was spent first in Chicago with Jack Shannon’s family problems, then in travel, then in an extended sequence in a network of catacombs beneath Cappadocia, and then journeying up the snowy slopes of the mountain. The end felt rushed. I wanted to see more of the site!

Mt. Ararat, where the Bible claims Noah’s Ark came to rest as the water drained from the world.

After some more intense action sequences in the previous book, the action in this one slid back into something with a little less intensity. Not that there weren’t situations of peril, chases, fistfights or gunfights, but they didn’t seem to have the same gravity as in the previous book, or as in the movies. Nonetheless, there were some scrapes and dangerous situations. By this point, the reader can get a strong sense of MacGregor’s view on Indiana Jones — for him they’re more like historical fiction featuring some physical conflicts. I tend to see Indiana Jones adventures within the larger field of pulp, which turns up the dials on action, sometimes at the cost of some realism. It seems MacGregor is always concerned with making his stories feel possible, the action grounded in the real. Which is probably why I find the scenarios acceptable but the scenes sometimes lacking in urgency.

Canon or Not?

Anyway, I like to think of these books as a better “backstory” for Indy than the Young Indiana Jones series. They don’t mesh well, meaning only one of them could be true. I lean on these books as being canon.

Read it or Skip It?

So far, all of these books follow one another sequentially, even though it isn’t truly necessary to read them in order… In other words, this isn’t Part 4 of a single story, just a new book in the ongoing adventures of Indiana Jones. If you’re a fan of Indiana Jones, I’d say read it.

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