Very good book. Although, the epilogue and excerpt from the next book, Dance of Death, left me without closure. I will definitely have to order the next book in the series to see what happens.
I was so looking forward to reading Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child but I was so totally disappointed when I finished.
I have to admit that I read the books out of order, probably a bad idea. The first one I ever read was Still Life With Crows and, while I enjoyed it and liked the Pendergast character, there were a couple of sections that confused me. There were references to people I didn't know and there were a mysterious pair of eyes, one hazel, one blue. At least, I think the eyes were in that book. I didn't plan on reading any more in the series but then I came across Cabinet of Curiosities and I was totally hooked. At that point, I realized I ought to go back and read the first two and I enjoyed them as well.
By then, Brimstone and Dance of Death were out in hardcover and/or paperback. I was eager to get to them, looking forward to this confrontation between Aloysius Pendergast and his mad brother Diogenes. I thought I'd be introduced to the brother in this book but there were just a couple of references to him and that was my first disappointment.
The next one was that a mysterious character appeared, Constance Green, and she didn't make any sense to me. I get it that she was in the Harlem mansion from the Cabinet book and that she was in hiding throughout the story. I get it that experiments were done on her and that she is actually very much older than she looks (she appears 19 or 20). If I remember correctly, Pendergast's great grandfather (or some relative) was the one performing life prolonging experiments on her and then he died. Now Pendergast is taking care of her, slowly easing her into the 21st century by reading to her from newspapers. You'd think she was a very fragile being but no, Pendergast also has her research the most hideous topics like soul snatching by the Devil and what have you. I kept getting this feeling of huh? and I don't like that feeling.
The book began well with the mysterious murders of two men in New York--with the stink of brimstone in the air and the burned out shells of bodies left behind, it sure seemed the work of Satan. Enter Pendergast--who has a special interest in serial killings--and Vinnie D'Agosta, now a trivial sergeant from eastern Long Island. This was another huh? section. Apparently D'Agosta returned from the NYC police force, dragged his unwilling wife and son to Canada, went bankrupt writing books and came crawling back sans family. Okay, I can't see a city cop leaving New York, sorry.
Another WTF moment: where was obnoxious reporter Bill Smithback of the New York Post? Apparently he and his old rival Bryce Harriman swapped jobs? Now Smithback is on his honeymoon and Harriman is struggling in Smithback's old job. Why? As far as I can tell, the entire Harriman/Buck-the-preacher segment was totally irrelevant to the story. It could have been left out and I think the story would have moved a lot faster for me.
Once Pendergast and D'Agosta went to Italy I began to get bored and impatient. I didn't like Count Fosco--he was an admittedly purloined character taken to honor the author who came up with detective stories. Really? Okay...yawn. I couldn't stand Count Fosco, didn't find him really believeable as a psychopathic villain. And the authors also purloined the story from Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado. Give me a break. I thought that story worked better for Dark Shadows than it did for this book.
But lots of people loved this book and I didn't. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because I wanted to see the battle between Pendergast and his brother begin. Where is Diogenes and what exactly is this perfect heinous crime he's planning? So I have to wait for Dance of Death to meet the guy? Although...
whose hazel and blue eyes peeked into that bricked up room? Well...I could have skipped this book and went right to the next one as far as I'm concerned.
Now I remember why I abandoned the series for a time. I let my pleasant experience with the The Dark Wheel and my fond memories of The Relic, Reliquary and the The Cabinet of Curiosities blur my vision and I checked this out of the library.
I'll stand by my earlier assessment - its 21st century pulp. But this outing descends to a bad level (not say Matthew Reilly level, but bad). The novel is too bloated for the pay off it delivers, and much of the secondary plot line involving Harriman, Capt. Hayward and Rev. Buck could have been eliminated entirely to good effect.
Anyway, I lightheartedly hope the next book will be better, but I think I'll read other things first before I get it out of the library.
I was very suprised by this book. Going mainly on the title and cover alone, I braved up enough to swap for it. To my satisfaction, this book was more than I had hoped. The authors did a wonderful job of creating a well-rounded story, making certain to tie up most, if not all, loose ends. Since this is the very first title I have read from Preston and Child, I cannot comment on their joint growths as authors, but I can say that if I ever had to jump into a series with both feet, I'm certainly glad I jumped into this book.
Nice polt twists. Good storyline, and quite engrossing