Fans of cerebral action adventure novels know that, outside of Michael Crichton, no one delivers the goods like the veteran writing team of Preston and Child (Relic; Still Life with Crows; etc.). As if invigorated by their recent solo efforts (Child: Utopia, etc.; Preston: The Codex, etc.), the two now deliver their best novel ever, an extravagant tale of international intrigue. As their admirers know, one reason Preston and Child thrillers work is because most feature arguably the most charismatic detective in contemporary fiction: FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, a wealthy, refined yet ruthless descendant of Holmes who's very much his own character. Pendergast, as well as other Preston and Child semiregulars, notably rough-hewn former NYPD cop Vincent D'Agosta, Watson to Pendergast's Sherlock, tread nearly every page of this vastly imagined, relentlessly enjoyable thriller. The body of a notorious art critic is found in his Hamptons, L.I., mansion, wholly burned, with a cloven hoofprint nearby: the devil's work? Similar killings ensue among a group of maleficent bigwigs who, as college students, once gathered in Florence for a mysterious reason. Also at that gathering was the charming yet sinister Italian Count Fosco, a wonderful character whom the authors have borrowed, with due credit, from Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White. In time Agent Pendergast ties Fosco into the killings, as well as a plot to equip the Chinese with devastating weapons and a parallel plot to recover a legendary Stradivarius violin. Erudite, swiftly paced, brimming (occasionally overbrimming) with memorable personae and tense set pieces, this is the perfect thriller to stuff into a beach bag. (Aug. 2) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Agent Pendergast, last seen in the authors' Still Life with Crows, returns in a gruesome murder mystery. In an exotic mansion, Jeremy Grove's charred remains are discovered in an otherwise locked and barricaded room. The area smells of brimstone, and singed into the floorboard appears to be a cloven hoofprint. According to rumor, Jeremy made a Faustian pact with Satan in his youth. Did the Dark Lord finally demand payment? Pendergast can't resist a mystery, and he incorporates the help of police officers from the authors' previous novels. In addition, a major character appears courtesy of Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White. Fans will be excited to see old friends, yet the story will still captivate newcomers. The authors have outdone themselves with marvelous set pieces and an intriguing mystery. Buy several copies. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/04.]-Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-As FBI Special Agent Pendergast immerses himself in the investigation of an art critic's bizarre murder, he conjures up clues pointing to the Devil as the culprit. After several killings in the same ghastly manner, similar clues are found. Pendergast teams up with Police Officer Vincent D'Agosta, with whom he had worked in The Relic (St. Martin's, 1996), and they begin a lengthy, intense, and time-driven search for the murderer. Along the way, D'Agosta becomes romantically and professionally attached to New York Police Captain Laura Hayward (Reliquary [Tor, 1998]). Their story runs parallel to the investigation and adds another layer of plot. The peculiar nature of Agent Pendergast, who always seems to get out of any kind of dire straits, complements and contrasts with down-to-earth, practical D'Agosta, and they act as catalysts for one another. The action moves from New York City to Italy and places in between. The authors are especially adept at creepy descriptions of eerily spooky castle ruins, crypts, and grave robberies. Readers who like ghost stories, hauntings, and other paranormal activities will find themselves eagerly engaged in this page-turner.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
An outrageously entertaining thriller from these accomplished co-authors (Still Life With Crows, 2003, etc.). Satanic murders are the bill of fare here. Defrocked NYC policeman and sometime mystery novelist Vincent D'Agosta (now on the Southampton force) re-teams with superrich polymath FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast to investigate the suspicious death of much-hated art critic Jeremy Grove, whose burned corpse shows signs of demonic maltreatment. After the two learn that the deceased's recent dinner guests all had reasons to off him, Pendergast trades repartee with adipose Italian aristocrat Count Fosco (blithely lifted from Wilkie Collins's classic The Woman in White), D'Agosta survives a professional hit, and another similar murder brings Homicide Captain Laura Hayward into the mix (and D'Agosta's amorous purview). Wealthy industrialist Locke Bullard, who had known connections to both victims, angrily resists interrogation-and may be helping supply China with un-interceptible long-range missiles. The discovery of further connections sends Pendergast and D'Agosta to Italy, where several involved persons living and dead met for nefarious purposes 30 years earlier. Meanwhile, in a thoroughly uninteresting subplot, convicted murderer and born-again preacher Wayne Buck turns the aforementioned rumors of demonic violence to his advantage, assembling an "army" of believers with whose excesses the beleaguered NYPD must also deal. No matter: Preston and Child have mastered the sure-fire technique of quickly shifting the scene and periodically introducing intriguing new characters. And when Pendergast and D'Agosta reach the ancient "Castello" where their villain resides and all answers lie, aprotracted (though quite gripping) climax ingeniously links Chinese WMDs with a priceless Stradivarius violin and the duplicitous employment of an ancient grimoire. A muted ending yields to a smashing Epilogue, one that sets the stage for a further continuation of this exhilarating series. As good as the genre gets. Don't miss it.
"Highly compelling thriller . . . Preston and Child prove that the devil is indeed in the details."Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)
"An outrageously entertaining thriller from these accomplished co-authors . . . As good as the genre gets. Don't miss it."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"The perfect thriller."Publishers Weekly (starred review)