Saturday 10 December 2016

Review: Cold Vengeance by Preston & Child

Orion, £12.99

Published 08/10/2011 | 05:00

Following the death of his wife Helen some weeks before, FBI special agent Aloysius XL Pendergast and his brother-in-law Judson Esterhazy are on a bonding trip, deer-stalking in the Scottish Highlands.

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Helen was mauled by a lion on safari in Africa, and Pendergast suspects she was betrayed and he is determined to find the culprits.

However, to his great surprise, Pendergast discovers that he is the intended prey, and that Esterhazy may know much more about his sister's death than he should.

As Pendergast digs into his wife's past, a sobering voyage of discovery that takes him from the Scottish moors to the darkest bayous of Louisiana via the bustling streets of New York, he realises he has become involved in a conspiracy that goes back several generations.

He realises it is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined, and, disconcertingly, his late wife may have lied to him. What's more, all those close to him are in deadly danger from a high-ranking elite determined to go to any lengths to keep the past buried.

This is co-authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's 11th mystery featuring the enigmatic special agent Pendergast, and, as always, they have delivered an elegantly written, wittily updated pastiche of the detective stories from the 1930s golden age of the genre.

The action is relentless, the dialogue sparkling and the dénouement leaves the reader wanting more. Fortunately, there will be more as Cold Vengeance is the second volume in a trilogy focusing on Helen Pendergast.

While this reads well as a stand-alone mystery, readers new to the series might like to read this book's immediate predecessor, Fever Dream, to get up to speed.

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