The U.S.-backed Contras are corrupting Nicaragua, and the Guatemala military is massacring the Maya Indian population.  Odel Bernini's time there becomes a journey of self-discovery, and with characters named Circe and Penelope, some adventurously sensual temptresses, and a big one-eyed guy out to kill him Brusca is clearly injecting some Homer into the narrative.  Add to that, special tea and mushrooms and Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec serpent god, and the rational scientist opens his spiritual side.  The setting for this novel is fertile and fruitful . . . and Brusca provides a sobering history of Central American countries, informed explanation of the archeology of the area, and appreciative, rich descriptions of the cities and lush countryside.


Arizona Daily Star/Christine Wald-Hopkins.  Book critic (San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, Arizona Daily Star, etc.), essayist, and university writing instructor; member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Reading In The Land of the Feathered Serpent . . . .  inspired me to want to travel in Central America. . . . . The depictions of science, politics, history, and the inner workings of the CIA seem genuine and quite authoritative. . . . . The myth aspect is well handled, as the book is not a copy of The Odyssey but rather a nod to the trials of Odysseus. . . . . I enjoyed the trip with Brusca and Odel, and I think readers with an interest in that part of the world will also enjoy the book.


Portland Book Review

Expecting to gather cursory intelligence in a remote location, Dr. Odel Bernini instead finds himself eluding well-armed soldiers known for torture and killing. His journey just begun, Odel huddles under a tarp in a flatbed truck wondering if his life is about to end.  In the Land of the Feathered Serpent is a capacious, multi-storied novel in a classical mode.  The story will circle back and around, laying out Dr.  Bernini’s journey towards a moment of dire confrontation with a treacherous and complex world.  The action moves seamlessly back and forth between the states . . . and lush backdrops of Central America.  Brusca’s appreciation and knowledge of the region is evident.  As Odel Bernini plunges into the unknown . . . he is led not by equations and analyses but prompted by his dream visions of a dark, beautiful woman.  By the time this odyssey is complete, Brusca will seamlessly stitch the inner and the outer into a dense and satisfying tapestry of action and self-discovery.  A wonderful, engaging writer, Brusca has produced an entertaining and touching hero’s journey, an epic of the soul.


Mary Ellen Hannibal.  Author of The Spine of the Continent, Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, and other award-winning books.

I read non-fiction, mostly, but once in a while a novel beckons.  In the Land of the Feathered Serpent was one that called.  In it, Brusca weaves bright threads of Latin American history, political angst during the Sandinista revolution, anthropology, marine biology, suspense, travel, and a series of heated romantic entanglements.  Even with a fascination for the critters that live in the intertidal zone, I never thought of describing a woman “as beautiful as a sea anemone.”  Yet I can’t get that out of my head.  The over-arching spiritual journey of Odel, the book’s main character, keeps Feathered Serpent meaningful, poignant, and deeply human.  I liked this book so much I bought copies for friends.  

Jonathan White.  Author of Talking on the Water and Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean.

I highly recommend this novel.  It's a wonderfully told story of Odel, a charismatic and culturally curious American biologist who, because he is driven by the need for research funds to continue his work in Central America, ends up working with the CIA during the Contra years.  As he pursues his research (both biological and reconnaissance) he explores the area's archaeological history (and its enduring magic) as well as the mysteriousness of love.  The book moves along, keeps you wanting to know more, and teaches a great deal about history, culture, and the basic human desire to know the other.

Sylvia D. Torti, PhD.  Latin-American scholar and award-winning essayist and novelist; author of The Scorpion’s Tail and CAGES.  Dean, Honors College, University of Utah.

An epic read!  A mystery, a love story, and a historical drama—all wrapped together in a journey through the politics and culture of Central America in the 1980s.  Odel Bernini, the naïve marine biologist who finds himself suddenly ensnared by the CIA in a situation that spirals out of control, is a character you won’t soon forget.


Jeff Hartman.  Author of Atkinson Exit and The Red Coral House.

A tale of one man’s journey of discovery and self-realization, this book pays homage to Homer’s Odyssey and James Joyce’s Ulysses.


University of Arizona Alumni Magazine

A prolific science writer, Richard Brusca has now written a fiction novel imaginatively spiced with love, adventure, magic, politics, and a very personal sense of humor.  I read it during a field trip in Belize, where some of the novel’s adventures take place.  One can’t stop reading this book and, when you have finished, it leaves you with a desire for a sequel on the amazing life of marine biologist Dr. Odel Bernini.


Omar Vidal.  Former United Nations Deputy Coordinator of the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment,  Director-General of World Wildlife Fund-Mexico (1995-2017), and indigenous rights defender in Mexico.

This terrific book is steeped with adventure, intrigue, nature and sensuality. A coherent passion for living, the oceans, and Latin America shines expressively through the main character.  This engaging glimpse into another world will resonate in your mind.  Take this book on your next trip!


Paul Delaney, PhD.  Copper Mountain College, California.

A great thriller rich with cultural history, geopolitical intrigue, and mysticism.


William Shaw, PhD.  Professor Emeritus and Latin America History Buff, University of Arizona.

Hang on for a thrilling ride. This novel is crafted with real places and historical events woven into an odyssey of Odel Bernini across Central America and Mexico in the 1980’s.  Brusca has written a multi-layered novel, rich with colors and patterns like the beautiful iconic fabrics of the region.

Dr. Richard Winn.  Scientist and Latin American Raconteur, Dulce, Guatemala.

A wonderful, many-layered story.  The author takes us on trips to Central America and gets involved with the CIA and people in Nicaragua and Guatemala with whom he has some powerful mind-affecting experiences.  All of it is fascinating, but through the book is the meandering story of his intimate relationships with three women, which ends up being a large part of why one wants to read on.

Dr. Elizabeth Bernays.  Regents Professor Emerita, University of Arizona and author of Six Legs Walking and many other books.

A great read.  Describes so well why we now have many desperate migrants from Central America trying to cross our southern border.  Brusca is the author of two-dozen nonfiction books, including the largest-selling text on invertebrate zoology.  And he is now a fine novelist as well!

Anne Cohen, PhD. Invertebrate Zoologist