Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
20 September, 2010
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child‘s mysteries featuring FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast is one of my favourite mystery series. Although set in modern day New York, there is an old world feel reminiscent of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes or Caleb Carr’s Dr. Laszlo Kreizler. But there is also a bit of the X-Files about it too. I like.
Cemetery Dance is the latest offering coming soon after the events in The Wheel of Darkness in which Agent Pendergast travels to deepest Tibet with his ward Constance Greene, traumatised after her near brush with death. The Wheel of Darkness comes just after the conclusion of a story arc featuring Pendergast’s diabolical brother Diogenes (Brimstone, Dance of Death, The Book of the Dead called the Diogenes trilogy and which should be read in order) but Cemetery Dance can be read as a standalone. I like reading things in orders so I would recommend you go and check out Relic, the first of Preston & Child’s novels featuring Agent Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta just so you can slowly appreciate what makes him so fascinating.
In Cemetery Dance, journalist William Smithback and his wife Nora are savagely attacked on their wedding anniversary. D’Agosta and Pendergast must find out who or what perpetrated the crime, especially since the assailant is someone who has apparently killed himself two weeks earlier. As the case becomes increasingly stranger, Pendergast must turn to his encyclopedic knowledge of the rituals of voodoo and Obeah to catch the cunning perpetrator who seems to have risen from the dead.
Like the other books in the series, I really enjoyed reading this one, but it felt slightly less thrilling after the rollercoaster ride that was the Diogenes trilogy. I did learn quite a bit of the dark arts of the Bayou, and Agent Pendergast was as stylishly brilliant as usual, but I thought it could have been fleshed out a little more. However, I have no quibbles regarding the style and prose, it’s slick, easy to read and well written. The contrast between the easy, confident style of Pendergast and the brash yet heartfelt D’Agosta, struggling within the police hierarchy and mourning the loss of his friend, was nicely balanced. I don’t know why, but you can’t help caring for these characters.
I am now eagerly awaiting their next installment, Fever Dream, where Agent Pendergast will be uncovering the the mystery behind the tragic death of his wife Helen many years ago. What he had thought was an accident no longer seems so. Can. Not. Wait.