This review was first published by Booklist on April 19, 2019.
Linden’s first novel combines a story about the practices of science with a political thriller. An archaeological dig in Kazakhstan uncovers a mysterious ancient find with potentially revolutionary implications. When the find is threatened by larger geopolitical forces, Claire Knowland must resort to unorthodox methods to save it. But this puts her in the sights of malevolent powers and threatens to undermine scientific acceptance of the discovery. Deep Past will remind readers of Golden Age science fiction in that the story is dedicated to the exploration of a really Big Idea. In this case, the idea is about evolution and animal intelligence rather than technology. Also like Golden Age science fiction, the characters and plot are clearly secondary to the Big Idea. The characters are varied and interesting but lacking nuance, and the plot has some good twists and tensions, if it is somewhat ham-handed at times. The story is good enough to be entertaining but it’s also just a good excuse to explore a radical scientific idea about animal intelligence.