Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wheel of Darkness

by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Reading Preston and Child books are a guilty pleasure that I thoroughly enjoy but don’t often admit to. It is like sneaking a bright pink snowball or a blow pop without benefit of children around and hoping that your work colleagues don’t catch you acting like a child instead of a serious professional. Preston and Child write some of the most entertaining, edge of your seat thrillers that I have ever encountered. I don’t often read thrillers but I don’t miss a Preston and Child release. My favorites are Thunderhead about the search for the Anasazi City of Gold, Riptide about pirate treasure on a dangerous island off the coast of Maine, and Ice Limit about a scientific expedition attempting to recover the largest meteorite from an island off the coast of Chile. Sure the premises sound silly but they are well done escapism which are just pure fun.

And then there are the Agent Pendergast series. Alloysius Pendergast, an unorthodox FBI agent, who comes from a very wealthy and strange southern family, is featured in Wheel of Darkness, the eighth book in the Pendergast series. I don’t really want to give too much away about Pendergast or the series but I highly recommend that you start at the beginning. The books featuring Pendergast in order of which they were published are:
Relic (1995)
Reliquary (1997)
Cabinet of Curiosities (2002)
Still Life with Crows (2003)
Brimstone (2004)
Dance of Death (2005)
Book of the Dead (2006)
Wheel of Darkness (2007)

Mount Dragon (1996), Riptide (1998), Thunderhead (1999) and Ice Limit (2000) are all stand alone books but do often have characters that show up in the Pendergast books. I have read them all in the order published.

I guess I should say something about Wheel of Darkness. Agent Pendergast and his ward, Constance Greene attempt to recover a mysterious Tibetan relic that has been stolen from the Tibetan monastery where they both have studied. They pursue the thief aboard a luxury ocean liner where a serial killer seems to be on the lose and then things go from bad to worse. While not as focused on the Pendergast story as more recent ones in the series, as always I really enjoyed the way the authors make their settings come to life. I was totally caught up in the world of the ultra luxury ocean liner both above decks with the officers and the mega-wealthy and below decks with the crew. Unfortunately, the authors seemed slightly off their game. The focus oddly was not on Agent Pendergast and I missed his antics and learning more about his fascinating story. The plot was also somewhat uneven and the mystery itself while an interesting premise didn't reach its full potential. While not one of their best, I was glad I read it and I do look forward to reading Cemetery Dance coming out soon. I highly recommend reading these books from the beginning.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bookmarks Magazine

Nov/Dec 2008

Historical Fiction
Blood Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks
Knights of Black and White - Jack Whyte
Painter from Shanghai - Jennifer Cody Epstein
The Last Empress - Anchee Min
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
After Dark - Haruki Murakami
Monsters of Templeton - Lauren Groff
Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry
The Girl With the Dragon Tatto - Stieg Larsson
Anathem - Neal Stephenson (SF)
Flood - Stephen Baxter (SF)
The Black Hole War - Leonard Susskind (NF)
Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin (SF)
Ringworld - Larry Niven (SF)
Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
New York Trilogy - Paul Auster
Under the Banner of Heavan - John Krakauer (NF)
Dear American Airlines - Jonathan Miles
Theory of Clouds - Stephane Audeguy
Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
Fieldwork - Mischa Berlinski
Signed Mata Hari - Yannick Murphy