Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: The Helen Trilogy by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: A Three-In-One Special!

Fever Dream

     Twelve years prior to the novel, Pendergast and his wife Helen were on a safari in Africa when they were called to deal with a man-eating lion. They go, but when they confront the lion, Helen’s gun misfires and she is killed by the lion.
     Present day, Pendergast has briefly returned to his family’s estate in Louisiana, and upon taking a look at Helen’s gun, discovers that it had been tampered with-it misfired on purpose, meaning somewhat arranged Helen’s death. Pendergast starts off on a desperate search to find the person responsible for his wife’s death, dragging Lieutenant D’Agosta along, from Africa to Maine to Louisiana. Along the way, however, Pendergast begins to discover that Helen was keeping secrets from him. Who wanted her dead? And why was she so obsessed with Audobon’s work? As Pendergast begins to unravel a conspiracy, he also begins to unravel everything he knew about his wife.
     Fever Dream is the first in the Helen trilogy of the Pendergast novels. Most of it was rather low-key tension, little action but plenty of mystery and suspense. We also get a more personal look into Pendergast’s mind, and find out a little more about the enigmatic FBI agent. Quite a few scenes are rather creepy; especially the eerie small town and it’s “ghost house”, as well as the trip into the swamplands. Preston and Child have a knack for atmosphere, and it shows up well in this novel. It was definitely a good start to the trilogy.

Cold Vengeance

     We open Cold Vengeance, appropriately, with another hunt, this time Pendergast with his brother-in-law. However, we know what his brother-in-law is planning; and when he betrays Pendergast, he reveals something shocking: Helen’s death was faked. Pendergast manages to escape, and now he has another goal-find out where Helen is, and why she faked her death, though no one else believes that Helen is truly alive.
     This was another very low-key book, at least up until the climax. Much of it was investigating-Pendergast investigates his wife’s family, Corrie investigates the Covenant, the organization after Pendergast, and a psychiatrist investigates Constance, who supposedly threw her child overboard on the boat trip back to New York. Nothing is at it seems, and the end leaves us on a cliff hanger and a set up for a fantastic finale.

Two Graves

     That finale.



     I do apologize. I tend to get excited over the latest Pendergast novel. It's a bad habit, but one I find very hard to break.

     Fantastic Pendergast quotes aside, the Helen trilogy goes out with a bang. Quite literally.

     The latest installment of the Pendergast series finds Pendergast hellbent on rescuing his wife and stopping Those Wacky Nazis in their Nefarious SchemesTM. Meanwhile, a killer is striking at hotels in New York City, John Felder goes on a search to discover who Constance Greene really is, and Corrie Swanson struggles to clear her Dad's name of a false accusation.

     This novel was different, yet at the same time wonderful. The beginning lets you know right away that this is going to be a long, grueling journey, not because the writing is bad, but because the authors have decided to torture the hero even more. It was an incredibly emotional book as well; we see the generally cool, collected Pendergast at his low point, and it's honestly painful to read about. At the same time, we get introduced to so many new, colorful characters, and the novel ends on a wonderfully hopeful note.

     Read these books. Or listen to them, if you prefer. Playaways are a Thing now, where you just plug in your earphones and hit play. Handy little things. (Unless you stick them in your pocket and it keeps hitting stop every time you move. That's a problem.) We've got another book coming this November, "White Fire", which presumably is going to be Sherlock Holmes related. (The fandom rejoiced.)

     Also...thanks to the collective shouting of fans, Paramount is seriously considering making at least one movie. Since, you know, they made Relic then decided that nonsensical Pendergast fellow wasn't necessary to the plot. Things are happening in the World of Pendergast. Prepare for it.

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