Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book Review: Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

This is yet another book of the Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and marks the beginning of the "Diogenes Trilogy".

The book opens up with some poor Latina housekeeper getting scared out of her wits by finding her employer dead in a locked room, under...odd circumstances.

Enter D'Agosta, stage right, fresh from Canada but stuck as a police sergeant in the Hampton PD, an embarrassing demotion from lieutenant of NYPD. No sooner does he appear than does Pendergast, which of course means everything is about to go to hell in a hand basket.

And that could just be literally.

See, more deaths follow on the heels of this one, and they all bear the same mark: all appeared to have been burned from the inside out, in locked rooms, and all so far seem to have been involved in some sort of pact with the devil. So is it mere spontaneous combustion...or has the Prince of Darkness come to claim his own? On the trail, Pendergast and D'Agosta head to Florence, Italy, leaving behind Pendergast's ward, Constance Greene. And if that name pops out at you, there is a very good reason for that.

Once in Italy their trail starts leading them toward a priceless violin, while poor Laura Hayward is stuck in New York dealing with a crazy street preacher. (What happened to any of the sane street preachers?)

To top it all off, Pendergast receives a note from his long-lost brother Diogenes, who is insane and happens to be planning some horrific crime.

This novel was strange, but good fun, leading us amongst many strange and amusing characters, including Count Fosco, a shining tribute to Wilkie Collins' character from The Woman in White. The villain was suitably clever, and the denouement kept me on the edge of my seat. The narrative felt a bit tighter in this one, and left us with a cliff hanger so big that we might as well be dangling over the Grand Canyon.


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