The Dig is actually two stories in one. It starts off with a mysterious find in Kenya, a piece of clothing unlike any ever found before. Enter Matthew Turner, an arrogant, selfish, twenty something with the power to “read” emotional imprints left on objects. Because of his power, he has an out-of-body experience that allows him to live as the person who had the emotional tie to the object.
The plot starts with young Mr. Turner being bribed into helping on a museum’s excavation for the artifact in Kenya.
Because Turner’s power to read emotional imprints he’s kind of a germaphobe but not really (because he’s not afraid of germs, he’s afraid of touching things). So he wears gloves and covers his whole body so he doesn’t touch any “used” surface. For example, Matt Turner wouldn’t enter a vehicle without covering himself that was previously used by another person. Because of his power, he struck it rich when he helped someone locate a lost treasure. Being a millionaire now, Turner bought a Porche. He took his gloves off when he got in the car after the salesman told him it was “new”. However, there was a logical flaw in that nothing in this world is really “new”. A “new” car on a parking lot isn’t new. The metal ore was dug up out of the ground, transported to a processing facility, bought and sold on the markets, finding its way to a manufacturing shop where they molded the ore into a car door, sent to the assembly line, compiled with other auto parts, shipped to a distribution facility, shipped to the showcase floor. So I couldn’t understand how he considered this “new” even though it had probably been touched by thousands of people, yet he couldn’t shake someone’s hand without a glove. Siemsen tries to explain this away by saying that the object in question has to have a deep emotional impact. Even so, it’s not a prefect explanation to explain the logical loophole. However, I’m sport for a good story and know you can’t plug every single plot flaw, so I went with it.
Once Turner has been sufficiently bribed into going to Kenya to authenticate the age of the artifact discovered is where we get into the story within the story.
The narrative flips back and forth between present day (Turner and the team of researchers)and 150 million years ago with the people who made the artifact.
Additionally, the book is written in third person omnipresent, like mine. Which means you can be in multiple characters heads pretty much at any given moment. This, combined with the flipping back and forth between time periods, may give some readers pause.
In general, the story was good, well thought out and well executed. Although I had no love for the protagonist (Turner), I didn’t think Siemsen’s villain (Reese) was a particular good antagonist either.
At the end of the day, it was an entertaining light read. It didn’t have much suspense or drama (though it tried), but also wasn’t a heavy, intellectual read making you contemplate the history of evolution. Not a bad way to spend a rainy afternoon if you have a few hours to kill.