This latest Preston and Child thriller, even in abbreviated form, offers gore galore, mutilations, bizarre ritual murders, an obstreperous sheriff, a young woman in jeopardy, a town consumed by terror and a spooky local legend-in short, an abundance of traditional suspense novel ingredients. Compensating for this apparent lack of imagination is the thriller's remarkable hero, Special Agent Pendergast, who's on leave from the FBI. This somewhat ethereal, cerebral specialist in macabre murders is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Mulder of The X-Files, but with his courtly Southern manner and combat expertise, he's very much his own man. Narrator Auberjonois, a familiar stage and screen presence, uses an appropriately silky accent and a playfully sarcastic tone for Pendergast. Auberjonois is equally successful with the other characters, especially the hard-headed but good-hearted Sheriff Dent Hazen, who emerges as a Wilfred Brimley minus the bluster; 18-year-old town rebel Corrie Swanson; and the killer, whose method of communication would challenge any vocal interpreter. Equally important, Auberjonois narrates the tale with the sort of mesmerizing intensity that can, and does, turn a fairly familiar yarn into a scary campfire chillfest.
Not a review really, just a Pendergastian thing I find quite interesting... Preston and Child make use of a concept that has become increasingly well-known in the last few decades--the "memory palace." In the mid-80s Jonathan Spence wrote a book titled The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, a nonfiction account of the life of Matteo Ricci (1552-1616), an Italian Jesuit who went to China to spread Catholicism in the largely Confucian country. In order to persuade the educated Chinese to abandon their traditional faith for the new one he was carrying, Ricci realized he'd have to do something to convince the Chinese that Western culture was superior. So he taught young Confucian scholars tricks to increase their memory skills--a big advantage given the countless laws and rituals they had to learn by heart. Ricci got a lot of students; more important, Ricci came to have a sympathetic understanding for China that he communicated to Rome, and thence to the European nations at large.
Terrific, eh? Or else you're thinking, "What does this have to do with Still Life with Crows?" With no further ado, then, here is Agent Aloysius Pendergast explaining his own memory palace:
"It is a mental exercise, a kind of memory training, that goes back at least as far as the ancient Greek poet Simonides. It was refined by Matteo Ricci in the late 15th century, when he taught the technique to Chinese scholars. I perform a similar form of mental concentration, one of my own devising, which combines the memory palace with elements of Chongg Ran, an ancient Bhutanese form of meditation. I call my technique a memory crossing. . . through intence research, followed by intense concentration, I attempt to recreate, in my mind, a particular place at a particular time in the past. . . It gives me a perspective obtainable in no other way. It fills in gaps, missing bits of data, that otherwise would not even be perceived as gaps. And it is frequently in these very gaps that crucial information lies."
What's cool about all this, for Pendergast fans, is that our dear albino aristocrat uses this memory-palace technique again and again in subsequent books, and it's fascinating the way Preston and Child write their way ever deeper into Aloysius's mind. It's such a vague, elusive notion, but P and C make it come alive, make it become an almost tangible part of each investigation--especially those having to do with Diogenes, and their joint childhood.
Now... are you, by any chance, thinking, "Where have I read of this memory palace before? And it wasn't in a Preston-Child book, either!" You're right. You *have* read about it. Thomas Harris used Matteo Ricci's memory palace in Hannibal, in which he gives Hannibal Lecter, flourishing in Florence at the time, a lush and well-appointed (would Hannibal stand for anything less?) memory palace of his very own. For my money, Harris does a better job of describing what a memory palace is used for, and what such a place might look like, but Preston and Child run away with the prize when it comes to developing the concept, through a series of adventures/books, into a superlative tool for accomplishments of the mind--e.g., detective work. (Or does it ultimately devolve into psychoanalytic work? Your call.)
At any rate, it's a small bit in Still Life with Crows--which is excellent on so many other levels you don't need me to tell you--but it is worth noting for the further unfolding of the tale of Agent Pendergast.
Good vs Evil; serial killer; FBI agent. An excellent book with bits of history, science, suspense, well developed characters and a great surprise twist at the end. These two authors work very well together and I would recommend anything written by them.
Agent Pendergast is back again to solve the mystery of a small Kansas town caught in the grips of a madman who is turning their town into a killing ground. Lots of twists, great adventure, pretty scary.
This is the second book featuring Special Agent Pendergast that I have listened to. I have really enjoyed the narration by Rene Aubernonois. The first audiobook I listened to with Pendergast was CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, also read by Rene. Rene is such a joy to listen to (I have listened to other narrators who just don't have the same talents for presenting the suspense and emotions as Rene).
This is a great story with a great presentation. You will want to listen to the whole Pendergast series.
Tanya B. (tanyab) - , reviewed Still Life with Crows (Pendergast, Bk 4) on
Helpful Score: 1
Great book. This book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Preston and Child are great story tellers. Their development of characters & surroundings is very impressive. If you have read other books by Preston & Child and like them, then this book is a definite must read.
I very much enjoy the books written by Preston and Child, and especially enjoy the main character, Inspector Pendergast. I must say though, that this book rose above all the other Pendergast novels I've read in terms of suspense and just plain fear. Add to that, the complete 90 degree turn the story takes when you find out who/what is causing all the fear. Completely unexpected and fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and gave it a 5 star rating.
First book I've read by these authors and I picked a winner. Outstanding book! Violent and gruesome at times but held together by a great plot line and an interesting mix of curious characters. Where's the movie????
Another great thriller from Preston and Child....if you're choosing it based on their other works...this one feels a bit different. Set in Kansas, it still features Pendergast, but it's otherwise removed from the famliar characters in their other books. It's still enjoyable, filled with head-scratching false clues and twists that will keep you guessing until the final chapters.
"A small Kansas town has turned into a killing ground. Is it a serial killer, a man with the need to destroy? Or is it a darker force, a curse upon the land? Amid golden cornfields, FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers evil in the blood of America's heartland."
I really liked this book - truly centers on the persona of the main character, Agent Pendergast, who appears in may of the Preston/Child books. This marks the 4th appearance of the distinguished FBI agent - a bit more violent than some of his other outings, but definitely exciting.
Fourth book in the Pendergast series. Great character development throughout the series. Great detail. I recommend you read the series in order so you don't miss the nuances in these books. Interesting, creepy. Love it!
I liked this one quite a bit, but I wouldn't say it is one of my favorites of their work. It wasn't terribly unpredictable and while I did enjoy the new characters (particularly Corrie - I hope she shows up in the series again) there were a few factual errors in the end of the book that were disappointing to say the least (the errors would constitute spoilers, which I don't want to give). But I was relieved that the solution to this mystery was not as offensive as it could have been (and had me worried that this would be the last book of theirs I read). I did find it very amusing that Corrie's book was a fake sequel to one of their books - every time the name was mentioned, I smiled.
I have enjoyed all the Preston and Child books I've read. The Agent Pendergast books are particular favorites. With this book (the fourth in the series though it works fine as a stand alone), the authors seem to return slightly more to the roots of this series (Relic and Reliquary) with a plausible real-life "monster" - suspenseful and intricate. I continue to appreciate that the always enigmatic Agent Pendergast selects a plucky, capable and intelligent female character to aid him in his dangerous investigations, as he again does in this book. Once the premise and groundwork are laid and characters introduced and expanded (about mid-way in the book), the reader is taken for a non-stop action ride to the finish. A bit gruesome at times, this book is one thrilling puzzle.
This may be one of the best novels Preston and Child have written. If you like these guys and have followed the career of FBI agent Pendergast this is a must read. You won't put the book down once you start
He arrives on a sweltering summer day, walking down a dusty Kansas road in a black suit, white shirt, and shiny black shoes. He insinuates himself into a murder investigation while he is on vacation. Still Life With Crows was my first experience of Pendergast, but it won't be my last. Pendergast is very weird, but in a way that I found strangely endearing. The descriptions of the town, its people, the landscape and the final chase that takes place as a tornado builds are so vivid that I could see it all happening in my mind as though I was watching a movie. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
Another excellent Agent Pendergast story. This time set in a small town surrounded by corn fields and with a history of Indian ghost warriors. A series of gruesome and bizarre murders has everyone puzzled and scared.
This latest Preston and Child thriller, even in abbreviated form, offers gore galore, mutilations, bizarre ritual murders, an obstreperous sheriff, a young woman in jeopardy, a town consumed by terror and a spooky local legend-in short, an abundance of traditional suspense novel ingredients. Compensating for this apparent lack of imagination is the thriller's remarkable hero, Special Agent Pendergast, who's on leave from the FBI.
An excellent book by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and you will have trouble putting this book down. It will also raise questions in your mind about some of our legends.
I really like the Special Agent Pendergast books, and this is a good entry in the series, if a reader is willing to suspend disbelief and just go with the story. This time the setting is rural Kansas, and the American countryside has never been creepier. Often gruesome, the book has an involving if not wholly original plot, with surprisingly solid and believable supporting characters. Even the stereotypically misfit teen Corrie, predictable as she was, managed to become an asset. For me, though, learning more about Pendergast is the reason for reading, and I wasn't disappointed.
Another Preston-Child book, as good as ever. They weave a just enough of the incredible into their books to make you start looking over your shoulders. Very compelling reading, fascinating settings, and another insomniac's delight.
Another great outing from Preston/Childs. This is book 4 in the Pendergast saga and it was a real thrill! Pendergast goes to a small town in Kansas, Medicine Creek, after a brutal murder is committed...a woman is killed and mutilated and left in a ritualized tableau in a corn field surrounded by dead crows and native american arrows. Even though this is only one murder, Pendergast knows that others are coming. And come they do! But who is committing the murders? The sheriff feels they are being committed to scare away a group from KSU who want to plant an experimental field of genetically modified corn near Medicine Creek. This would potentially bring much-needed capital and jobs to the area but another town is also vying for the project. Of course Pendergast is following another track and enlists a young local girl as his assistant who knows everyone in the town. The girl, Corrie, is a great character who I hope may turn up in some of the future novels in the series. The last part of the novel was a real thrill ride with Pendergast, as well as the sheriff and several others, hunting the killer through an immense cave system or is the killer hunting them? High recommendation for this and I will be looking forward to the rest of the series.
New York Times bestselling authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child return with a suspenseful midwest Gothic thriller about a serial killer who terrorizes a small town.
Medicine Creek, Kansas, has been slowly dying for the last century. A small, quiet place, the primary occupation is still farming, Main Street is a stretch of old and dusty businesses, and the nearest mall is 200 miles away. In a town where nothing changes, the community is terrified after a series of grisly murders takes place. Even more alarming, the bodies are displayed in bizarre tableaus.
With the entire town in shock, FBI Agent Pendergast arrives from New Orleans to investigate. From the fields to the local caves, Pendergast discovers the remnants of a Prohibition-era moonshine operation and the truth behind one of the town's greatest mysteries: who was behind the Medicine Creek Massacre of 1865.
Now, Pendergast must discover the twisted secret hiding within a four-generation Kansas family--before someone else is murdered.