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Fever Dream (Special Agent Pendergast Series #10)

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Overview

Yesterday, Special Agent Pendergast still mourned the loss of his beloved wife, Helen, who died in a tragic accident in Africa twelve years ago.

Today, he discovers she was murdered.

Tomorrow, he will learn her most guarded secrets, leaving him to wonder: Who was the woman I married? Why was she murdered? And, above all . . . Who murdered ...

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Overview

Yesterday, Special Agent Pendergast still mourned the loss of his beloved wife, Helen, who died in a tragic accident in Africa twelve years ago.

Today, he discovers she was murdered.

Tomorrow, he will learn her most guarded secrets, leaving him to wonder: Who was the woman I married? Why was she murdered? And, above all . . . Who murdered her?

FEVER DREAM

Revenge is not sweet: It is essential.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The loss of his wife had been tragic enough, but now, gathering her possessions together in Louisiana, Aloysius Pendergast makes a discovery that makes it even more horrific: Some one had killed this fearless big game hunter by filling her rifle with blanks. Galvanized into action, the FBI Special Agent begins a pursuit for her killer that quickly becomes an obsession. Assisted by Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta, he uncovers clues that lead him down unsuspected paths—and ever deeper into danger. A calibrated thriller from two masters of the craft. A Barnes & Noble Bestseller now in mass market and NOOK Edition versions.

Publishers Weekly
Preston and Child up the emotional ante considerably in their 10th thriller featuring brilliant and eccentric FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast (after Cemetery Dance), one of the best in the series. For 12 years, Pendergast has believed that the death of his wife, Helen, in the jaws of a ferocious red-maned lion in Zambia was just a tragedy, but his chance examination of the gun she carried on the fateful day reveals that someone loaded it with blanks. Pendergast drags his longtime NYPD ally, Lt. Vincent D'Agosta, into a leave of absence that includes travel to Africa as well as the American South. The motive for Helen's murder appears to be linked to her fascination with John James Audubon and her quest for a mysterious lost Audubon painting. Once again, the bestselling authors show they have few peers at creating taut scenes of suspense. Their restraint in the book's early sections make the payoffs all the more compelling. (May)
Publishers Weekly
Rene Auberjonois continues his skilled narration of Preston and Child's suspense series featuring FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. Twelve years ago, Pendergast's beloved wife, Helen, was killed by a lion in Africa, and her bizarre death still haunts him, but now he's discovered something extraordinary. Helen's death was no freakish accident, it was murder. Accompanied by his good friend, NYPD detective Vincent D'Agosta, Pendergast travels halfway around the world to investigate his wife's killing. Auberjonois perfectly captures the mysterious and suspenseful tone of the authors' story. His character portrayals are spot on as he slips from one diverse set of characters to another. This particular adventure provides him with a stronger emotional range in regard to the usually unflappable Pendergast who is more passionate and impulsive than we've seen in the past, and Auberjonois embraces this opportunity to show a deeper, more human side of the agent. A Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 8). (May)
From the Publisher
"This is no dream; it's the authors' best book in years. Not to be missed by either newcomers or die-hard fans."—Library Journal (starred review)

"They have grown steadily darker and more elegantly written...together they reach an entirely different level, achieving a stylistic grace and thematic resonance neither has so far matched alone. This may be the best of the Pendergast novels."—Booklist (starred review)

"Up the emotional ante considerably...brilliant and eccentric...one of the best in the series. Once again, the bestselling authors show they have few peers at creating taut scenes of suspense."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Library Journal
Special Agent Pendergast returns in a new thriller with personal ramifications. Twelve years earlier, he watched in horror as his wife was mauled and killed by a lion in the African veldt. Now, while digging through stuff in his Louisiana home, he stumbles on the rifle that she had with her that fateful day and discovers that it had been loaded with blanks. Pendergast quickly enlists his friend Lieutenant D'Agosta to help him uncover a crafty murderer. Their journey will unveil terrible secrets his wife kept from Pendergast during their marriage and an obsession she had with the famed naturalist-painter John James Audubon. VERDICT This is no dream; it's the authors' best book in years. Pendergast has to rein in his feelings to pay attention to the details, and it's fun to see the role reversal between him and the usually emotional D'Agosta. Not to be missed by either newcomers or die-hard fans. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10.]—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
Another moody Agent Pendergast novel from powerhouse duo Preston and Child (The Book of the Dead, 2006, etc.). When quirky but brilliant FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast's wife Helen was killed in Africa many years ago by a lion, no one had any reason to suspect foul play. Although she was an excellent shot, she'd only had time to get one shot off before the beast was upon her, and even the best marksperson misses occasionally. Twelve years later, while examining the gun she'd used on the day she died, Pendergast discovers that someone had loaded her rifle with a blank. Her death hadn't been an accident after all. He vows to do everything in his power to avenge his wife's death, and, being Pendergast, his power is considerable. He again enlists the help of his usual Watson, the NYPD's Lt. Vincent D'Agosta, and the two set out for Africa, where Pendergast's suspicions are quickly confirmed. Soon, the clues lead them back to New Orleans, Pendergast's hometown, and they learn that Helen had secretly been pursuing a missing transitional painting by John James Audubon. But why? And why spend so much time and energy to keep the search a secret, even from her husband? As the duo close in on the answer, they discover that someone is willing to go to great lengths to keep them from the truth. Preston and Child are at their best when immersing the reader in the dank, dark atmosphere of the bayous and swamps of rural Louisiana, where much of the novel is set. Pendergast, beloved by fans and described by the authors in a note to readers as "the world's most enigmatic FBI agent," can be a bit much, occasionally coming across as a set of eccentricities rather than a living, breathing character. Still, readers of previous Pendergast novels will welcome this installment starring the exceedingly peculiar FBI Special Agent. Stylish, dark and tense.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446566858
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Series: Special Agent Pendergast Series , #10
  • Pages: 672
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lincoln Child

The thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child "stand head and shoulders above their rivals" (Publishers Weekly). Preston and Child's Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities were chosen by readers in a National Public Radio poll as being among the one hundred greatest thrillers ever written, and Relic was made into a number-one box office hit movie. They are coauthors of the famed Pendergast series and their recent novels include Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, Two Graves, and Gideon's Corpse. Preston's acclaimed nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a movie starring George Clooney. Lincoln Child is a former book editor who has published five novels of his own, including the huge bestseller Deep Storm.
Readers can sign up for The Pendergast File, a monthly "strangely entertaining note" from the authors, at their website, www.PrestonChild.com. The authors welcome visitors to their alarmingly active Facebook page, where they post regularly.

Biography

Born in Westport, CT, in 1958, Lincoln Child grew up with a consuming interest in writing. (On his website, he acknowledges several short stories from his youth and two "exquisitely embarrassing" novels penned in high school -- and currently kept under lock and key!) He graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota with a degree in English. In 1979, he moved to New York to pursue a career in publishing and was hired by St. Martin's Press as an editorial assistant. By 1984, he had worked his way up to full editor.

It was around this time that Child met Douglas Preston, a writer employed by the American Museum of Natural History. Author and editor bonded while working together on the nonfiction book Dinosaurs in the Attic; and when the project ended, Preston treated Child to a private midnight tour of the AMNH. The excursion proved fateful: Exploring the deserted corridors and darkened nooks and crannies of the museum, Child turned to Preston and said, "This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!" Although the book would not see print until 1995, the idea for Relic was born that night, cementing a friendship and launching a unique cross-country writing partnership.

Child left St. Martin's in 1987 to went to work for MetLife as a systems analyst. Shortly after the publication of Relic, he resigned his position to become a full-time writer. Subsequent collaborations with Preston have produced an intriguing string of interconnected novels that are less a series than what the authors call a "pangea." The books are self-contained, but the stories take place in the same universe and they share events and characters -- including many introduced in Relic. Readers obviously enjoy this cross-pollination, since the Preston-Child thrillers turn up regularly on the bestseller charts.

In 2002, Child released his first solo novel, Utopia, the story of a futuristic amusement park held hostage by a group of techno-terrorists. Other solo works have followed, blending cutting-edge science and high-octane thrills. Preston, too, has produced fiction and nonfiction on his own, and the two men continue their successful collaborations. It's an arrangement that suits both writers to a tee.

Good To Know

While at St. Martin's, Lincoln Child assembled several collections of ghost and horror stories. He also founded the company's mass-market horror division.

On his website, Child lists the following among his interests: pre-1950s literature and poetry; post-1950s popular fiction; playing the piano, various MIDI instruments, and the 5-string banjo; English and American history; motorcycles; architecture; classical music, early jazz, blues, and R&B; exotic parrots; esoteric programming languages; mountain hiking; bow ties; Italian suits; fedoras; archaeology; and multiplayer deathmatching.

In our interview Child shared some fun and fascinating personal anecdotes.

"I try to write about things, places, events, and phenomena I know about personally. That helps make the novels more genuine. My grandmother, Nora Kubie, who was herself a published novelist, always gave me that advice. And it's probably the best I've received, or for that matter given. I even try to make use of my personal eccentricities and quirks. I hate subways, for example, and in such works as Reliquary I tried to instill -- or at least convey -- that groundless but persistent fear."

"My first job out of college was as an editorial assistant in a New York publishing house. Being an editorial assistant is the purgatory would-be editors must endure before they can ascend the ladder and begin acquiring books on their own. I spent a year filing paperwork, writing copy, and typing rejection letters."

"For me, writing never gets easier. It's always hard work. It doesn't matter how many words you wrote the day before, or how many novels you've completed in the last decade: every day you start fresh again with that same blank page, or that same blank screen. As long as the work, and the finished product, remains fresh and important to a writer -- and the day it stops being important to me is the day I'll lay down my pen -- said writer can never allow himself to coast, or go soft, or recycle old material, or take the easy way out."

"I like exotic parrots, motorcycles, wine from Pauillac, playing the piano and the banjo, the poetry of John Keats, the music of Fats Waller, collecting old books and new guitars, computer FPS and RPG games, and preparing dishes like caneton a l'Orange and desserts like soufflé au chocolat."

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First Chapter

Fever Dream


By Preston, Douglas

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Preston, Douglas
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446554961

1

TWELVE YEARS AGO


Musalangu, Zambia


THE SETTING SUN BLAZED THROUGH THE AFRIcan bush like a forest fire, hot yellow in the sweltering evening that gathered over the bush camp. The hills along the upper Makwele Stream rose in the east like blunt green teeth, framed against the sky.

Several dusty canvas tents circled a beaten area shaded by a grove of old musasa trees, their branches spreading like emerald umbrellas over the safari camp. A thread of smoke from a cooking fire twisted up through the cover, carrying with it the tantalizing scent of burning mopane wood and roasting kudu.

In the shade of the central tree, two figures, a man and a woman, were seated in camp chairs on either side of a table, drinking iced bourbon. They were dressed in dusty khakis, long pants and sleeves, protection against the tsetse flies that came out in the evening. They were in their late twenties. The man, slender and tall, was remarkable for a cool, almost icy paleness that seemed impervious to the heat. The coolness did not extend to the woman, who was lazily fanning herself with a large banana leaf, stirring the thick mane of auburn hair she had loosely tied back with a bit of salvaged twine. She was tanned and relaxed. The low murmur of their conversation, punctuated by an occasional laugh from the woman, was almost indistinguishable amid the sounds of the African bush: the calls of vervet monkeys, the screech of francolins and chattering of fire-finches, which mingled with the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen tent. The evening chatter was underlain by the distant roar of a lion deep in the bush.

The seated figures were Aloysius X. L. Pendergast and his wife of two years, Helen. They were at the tail end of a hunting safari in the Musalangu Game Management Area, where they had been shooting bushbuck and duiker under a herd reduction program granted by the Zambian government.

“Care for another sundowner?” Pendergast asked his wife, raising the cocktail pitcher.

“Another?” she replied with a laugh. “Aloysius, you wouldn’t be planning an assault on my virtue, would you?”

“The thought never entered my mind. I was hoping perhaps we could spend the night discussing Kant’s concept of the categorical imperative.”

“Now you see, this is exactly what my mother warned me about. You marry a man because he’s good with a rifle, only to find he has the brains of an ocelot.”

Pendergast chuckled, sipped his drink, glanced down at it. “African mint is rather harsh on the palate.”

“Poor Aloysius, you miss your juleps. Well, if you take that FBI job Mike Decker’s offering, you can drink juleps day and night.”

He took another thoughtful sip and gazed at his wife. It was remarkable how quickly she tanned in the African sun. “I’ve decided not to take it.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not sure I’m ready to stay in New Orleans with all that it entails—the family complications, the unpleasant memories. And I’ve seen enough violence already, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know—have you? You tell me so little about your past, even now.”

“I’m not cut out for the FBI. I don’t like rules. In any case, you’re all over the world with that Doctors With Wings outfit; we can live anywhere, as long as it’s close to an international airport. ‘Our two souls therefore endure not a breach, but an expansion, like gold to airy thinness beat.’ ”

“Don’t bring me to Africa and quote John Donne. Kipling, maybe.”

“ ‘Every woman knows all about everything,’ ” he intoned.

“On second thought, spare me the Kipling as well. What did you do as a teenager, memorize Bartlett’s?”

“Among other things.” Pendergast glanced up. A figure was approaching along the trail from the west. He was a tall Nyimba tribesman, dressed in shorts and a dirty T-shirt, an ancient rifle slung over his shoulders, carrying a forked walking stick. As he approached the camp, he paused and cried out a greeting in Bemba, the local lingua franca, which was answered by welcoming shouts from the kitchen tent. He then proceeded into camp and approached the table at which the Pendergasts were seated.

Both rose. “Umú-ntú ú-mó umú-sumá á-áfíká,” Pendergast said by way of greeting, and grasped the man’s dusty, warm hand, Zambian-fashion. The man proffered his walking stick to Pendergast; there was a note wedged into its fork.

“For me?” Pendergast asked, switching to English.

“From the district commissioner.”

Pendergast shot a glance at his wife, then removed the note and unfolded it.


My dear Pendergast,

I wish to have a conversation with you immediately via SSB. There has been a nasty business at Kingazu Camp—very nasty.

Alistair Woking, DC

South Luangwa


PS. Dear chap, you know perfectly well that regulations require you to have SSB communications set up at every bush camp. It is most annoying to have to send a runner like this.


“I don’t like the sound of that,” said Helen Pendergast, looking over her husband’s shoulder. “What do you think this ‘nasty business’ is?”

“Perhaps a photo tourist has suffered the amorous advances of a rhinoceros.”

“That’s not funny,” Helen said, laughing all the same.

“It is rutting season, you know.” Pendergast folded the note and shoved it in his breast pocket. “I’m very much afraid this means our shooting safari is over.”

He walked over to the tent, opened a box, and began screwing together the battered pieces of an aerial antenna, which he then carried up into a musasa tree and wired to an upper branch. Climbing back down, he plugged the wire into the single side-band radio he had placed on the table, turned on the unit, adjusted the dials to the correct frequency, and sent out a call. In a moment the irritated voice of the district commissioner came back, squawking and scratchy.

“Pendergast? For God’s sake, where are you?”

“Upper Makwele Stream camp.”

“Blast. I was hoping you were nearer the Banta Road. Why the devil don’t you keep your SSB connected? I’ve been trying to reach you for hours!”

“May I ask what’s happened?”

“Over at Kingazu Camp. A German tourist was killed by a lion.”

“What idiot allowed that to happen?”

“It wasn’t like that. The lion came right into camp in broad daylight, jumped the man as he was walking back to his hut from the dining tent, and dragged him screaming into the bush.”

“And then?”

“Surely you can imagine ‘and then’! The wife was hysterical, the whole camp went into an uproar, they had to bring in a helicopter to airlift out the tourists. The camp staff left behind are scared shiteless. This fellow was a well-known photographer in Germany—bloody bad for business!”

“Did you track the lion?”

“We have trackers and guns, but nobody who’ll go into the bush after this lion. Nobody with the experience—or the ballocks. That’s why we need you, Pendergast. We need you down here to track that bugger and… well… recover the remains of the poor German before there’s nothing left to bury.”

“You haven’t even recovered the body?”

“Nobody will go out there after the bloody thing! You know what Kingazu Camp is like, all the dense brush that’s come up because of the elephant poaching. We need a damned experienced hunter. And I needn’t remind you that terms of your professional hunting license require you to deal with rogue man-eaters as, and if, it becomes necessary.”

“I see.”

“Where’d you leave your Rover?”

“At the Fala Pans.”

“Get cracking as fast as you can. Don’t bother breaking camp, just grab your guns and get down here.”

“It’ll take a day, at least. Are you sure there isn’t anyone closer who can help you?”

“Nobody. At least, nobody I’d trust.”

Pendergast glanced at his wife. She smiled, winked, mimed the shooting of a pistol with one bronzed hand. “All right. We’ll get moving right away.”

“One other thing.” The DC’s voice hesitated and there was a silence over the radio, filled with hissing and crackling.

“What?”

“Probably not very important. The wife who witnessed the attack. She said…” Another pause.

“Yes?”

“She said the lion was peculiar.”

“How so?”

“It had a red mane.”

“You mean, a little darker than usual? That’s not so uncommon.”

“Not darker than usual. This lion’s mane was deep red. Almost blood red.”

There was a very long silence. And then the DC spoke again. “But of course it can’t be the same lion. That was forty years ago in northern Botswana. I’ve never heard of a lion living more than twenty-five years. Have you?”

Pendergast said nothing as he switched off the radio, his silvery eyes glittering in the dying twilight of the African bush.



Continues...

Excerpted from Fever Dream by Preston, Douglas Copyright © 2010 by Preston, Douglas. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 571 )
Rating Distribution

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(269)

4 Star

(169)

3 Star

(73)

2 Star

(35)

1 Star

(25)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Story! Very gripping.

    This was provided for review by Hachette Book Group.

    There were so many things going on in this one I don't even know where to start... It was such a good book. I can truly say that I didn't see anything coming.

    The characters were pretty good. Being that this was an audio book I didn't get the same connection to the characters that I do when I read the book myself. But they were well developed characters none the less. Pendergast was an odd person, and that's putting it lightly. I liked Hayward the most I think. She seemed to be the most level-headed.

    The story itself was fantastic. Right from the beginning the action starts and it doesn't really let up. Like I said it wasn't at all predictable. There were so many twists to the story that I was shocked by many of them. The twists weren't cheesy either. Each of them really added something to the story. It wasn't like they added a twist just for the sake of adding a twist.

    The narrator was great. Rene Auberjonois did a great job with this one. I loved his voice, even when I used to watch Deep Space Nine I always liked his character, his voice was soothing then. Again he is fairly well known, but I didn't "see" his known characters while he was reading.

    Again I LOVED this one. Although it was a little long I was kept drawn into the story the whole way!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fever Dream; another success for Preston & Childs

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this suspense thriller. From the get go, the reader is thrown into exotic scenery, meticulous and vivid descriptions and a solid plot and story. There is no letting up as chapter after chapter, new clues are revealed and the main characters try to figure out how it all leads to the murder of Pendergast's wife. This is exactly how I like my suspense thrillers. You can't tell who's behind the murder until the very end. I enjoy it when the writer makes it that much harder for you to predict the next clue or to solve the mystery. Preston and Childs not only creates a challenge for the characters involved in the story but also for the readers as well and i thought that this is a testament to their excellent writing skill.

    I have to admit that Pendergast was my favorite character in this book. He's a brilliant detective who often straddles the line between a good cop and a bad cop. In fact sometimes I feel as though he is more of the latter. He is also at times very arrogant and cynical but I think Preston and Child made this work in the character's favor.

    Listening to the book was also a really nice experience. It did provide some variety in my reading. The narrator Rene Auberjonois (the guy from Boston Legal) was really easy to listening to. He provided just the right amount of excitement in his tone when necessary. The story was 70+ chapters long and while I thought that it was a bit too long the story maintained its intrigue up until the very end. I guess in a way that made up for the story being so long. Also the character Constance Green was not resolved properly in the story. She came in pretty late into the book and her purpose or her connection to the overall story was not well developed. When the book ended i still had no clue about her.

    All and all, this is a great story that is worth the read (or the listen)

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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