Spotlight: Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. Stokes

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Addison Cooke’s second laugh-out-loud adventure–a journey through Asia in pursuit of the legendary tomb of Genghis Khan!

Fresh off of a victorious treasure hunt and rescue mission in South America, Addison Cooke just can’t seem to steer clear of rogue bandits, pesky booby traps, and secret treasure troves. But it sure beats sitting around in school all day.

Addison’s aunt and uncle, on the other hand, are none too happy about their habit of attracting kidnappers. When they become pawns in a dangerous gang’s plan to steal the most prized possession of the notorious Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, Addison and his friends find themselves once again caught in the middle of a multi-million-dollar international heist. Armed with nothing but their wits and thirst for adventure, they travel across Asia in an attempt to rescue Addison’s family and stop the treasure from falling into the wrong hands.

Brimming with round-the-clock action and tons of laughter, Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan is perfect for fans of Indiana Jones, ancient history, and James Patterson’s Treasure Hunters series.

Excerpt

Chapter One
The Gentle Art of Persuasion 

All things considered, today was an other­wise excellent day in the life of one Addison H. Cooke. Summer was displaying its usual symptoms: immaculate blue sky, trace of freshly mown grass in the breeze, gen­eral feeling that all was well with the world, etc. There was a growing restlessness among the students of Public School 141, like inmates finally up for parole. Not only was June’s thermostat set to perfection, but it was the last day of school and a Friday, to boot. Any way you cut it, Addison knew this was not a day to be spent in detention. 

And yet here he was. He—Addison Cooke! The same Addison Cooke who had crossed the Amazon, outwitted cartel criminals, and rescued an Incan treasure was now standing at humble attention in the school principal’s office, Kangol cap in hand. “Touching on this business of skipping class,” he began, “this is all just a simple misun­der standing.”

“How?” asked the principal.

“I misunderstood that you would find out.”

The principal leaned his elbows on the giant oak desk. He was scarcely tall enough to see over his own name plaque: Principal Ronald W. Stern. But what he lacked in stature he made up for in eyebrows. “You mind telling me why you were skipping gym class?”

“Not at all, I’d be happy to.”

“Well?”

“I was reading a book, that’s the true story. I mean, the book was fiction. But the fact that I was reading the book is true.” Addison bit his lip; it was not his best opening salvo. He clarified, “The fact that I was reading fiction is not fiction.”

“Reading a book is no excuse for missing out on your education.”

Addison sighed. He had only himself to blame. After escaping Incan deathtraps in the jungles of Peru, he had a hard time convincing himself that seventh-grade gym class was of any real consequence. He had figured the administration wouldn’t mind him skipping one measly gym class on a Friday afternoon on the last day of school. He had figured wrong.

Addison tried a different tack. The key to any hostage negotiation was simply to keep the kidnappers talking. “When Gertrude Stein studied at Harvard, she turned in a final exam paper to her philosophy professor. She wrote one sentence: ‘I don’t feel like taking an exam today; it’s too nice out.’”

“Did she get a detention?”

“No. Her professor wrote back, ‘Miss Stein, you truly understand the nature of philosophy,’ and he gave her an A.”

“Is that true?”

“In philosophy, anything can be true.”

The principal frowned.

“The point isn’t whether it’s true,” Addison continued quickly. “The point is to believe in the bigger picture.”

“I’m not giving you an A for skipping class.”

“I will settle for a B.”

“I would give you more detentions,” said Principal Stern, “but the school year is only so long.”

Addison recognized it was time to improve his tactics. His aunt Delia and uncle Nigel had promised to take him on their summer archaeological dig in China if he could soldier through the last dregs of the school year with perfect behavior. Now here he was, staring down the barrel of a detention. It was like running a twenty-six-mile marathon, limping up to the finish line, and slipping on a banana peel.

“I’m writing out your detention slip now. You know the drill. The pink copy is for your aunt or uncle’s signature.”

Addison realized things were getting way out of hand. He made a T with his hands, signaling a time-out. He realized, as he did it, that this proved he actually had learned something in gym class.

“Time-out?” asked Principal Stern, confused. No student had ever called a time-out on him before.

“Yes. I’ll take off my ‘student’ hat and you take off your ‘principal’ hat, and we’ll just talk to each other like two human beings. Okay?”

Principal Stern slowly nodded, not sure where any of this was going.

Addison sat down in the button-tufted leather chair opposite the principal’s oak desk. He crossed his legs urbanely, picking a speck of lint off the smooth crease of his trouser leg. He favored Principal Stern with his most frank and disarming smile. “A few million years ago, some monkeys climbed down out of trees, and now we have schools and principals and I have a detention.”

“Are you blaming your detention on evolution?”

“I’m saying there are larger forces at work here. Here’s the thing, Ron. May I call you Ron?” 

“You may not call me Ron.”

“Ronald, then.”

“You may not address me by my first name.”

“Yes, I can—we are in a time-out.” Addison spoke quickly before the principal could retort. “Ronald, what did you want to do before you became a principal?”

Principal Stern decided to play along. It was, after all, a beautiful afternoon, and he had nowhere pressing to be. Besides, the detention slip was already written. “I was a teacher. Principal seemed like a smart career move. Although in this present moment, I am regretting that choice.”

“How long were you a teacher?”

“Longer than you’ve been alive.”

“And what do teachers do, Ronald?”

Principal Stern puckered his eyebrows, searching for a trap in the question. “Teach?”

“Precisely. They teach.” Addison finally felt he was getting somewhere. He just needed to build the “yes ladder.” “Do you value education, Ronald?”

“Yes.”

“Do you value the pursuit of knowledge?”

“Of course.”

“Do you value the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and human reason?”

“I do.”

“Look me in my eyes, Ron. Really look at me.” 

Principal Ronald Stern hoisted his eyebrows and really looked.

“If reading a book is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Did you become an educator so you could punish stu­dents for reading books?”

“Well, not exactly. I—”

“Yes or no, Ron! Tell me to my face: are you going to stop punishing students for trying to learn?”

“No, I won’t. I mean, yes, I will. Wait, what?”

Addison stood and crossed to the American flag that stood in the corner of the principal’s office. The Stars and Stripes rippled proudly in the breeze of the open window. “Ronald, if you give me a detention for learning, you will be turning your back on education, on your life’s work, and on America. You will be spitting in the face of prog­ress, of science, and of your own dreams!”

Addison tilted his chin resolutely in the air as the flag fluttered behind him. “You shouldn’t punish me for skipping gym class, you should pin a medal on me.” He returned to his chair and crossed his legs. “Time in.”

Ronald Stern sat back in his chair, unsure what to do. “Mr. Cooke, truancy is a crime in the state of New York. I can’t have you skip class without consequences.”

“Mr. Stern, if you punish me for this, the consequences will be only to the integrity of America’s education system.”

Principal Stern had heard enough. He suddenly felt exhausted, like a boxer in the twelfth round, praying for the bell.

Addison knew he had the man against the ropes. He threw his widow-maker. “If you give me a detention, you will have to see me for three more hours. If you let me go, you won’t have to see me again for three whole months.” Addison watched the blow land.

The principal’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline before settling back down to roost on his forehead. He crumpled the detention slip in his hand and sighed. “Addison, you are free to go.”

Excerpted from Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. Stokes. Copyright © 2017 by Jonathan W. Stokes. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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About the Author

 Photo: © Miles Crawford

Photo: © Miles Crawford

Jonathan W. Stokes (www.jonathanwstokes.com) is a former teacher who is now a Hollywood screenwriter. He has written screenplays on assignment for Warner Brothers, Universal, Fox, Paramount, New Line, and Sony/Columbia. Inspired by a childhood love of The Goonies and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Jonathan set out to write his first novel, Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas. Born in Manhattan, he currently resides in Los Angeles, where he can be found showing off his incredible taste in dishware and impressive 96% accuracy with high fives. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonathanwstokes.