Brimstone (2004) – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

 

It’s time to rejoin Special Agent Pendergast in his literary adventures in Brimstone, the next novel in the series from authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I found it rather interesting that the Doctor Who story this Saturday past features some cloven hooves burned into the country side, and this novel, features a murder (apparently a case of spontaneous combustion) with a cloven hoof burned into the floorboards of a murder scene, as well as the ominous scent of brimstone. This occurs in a comfy home in the Hamptons, happily where Pendergast, whose first name is revealed to be Aloysius), appears to be taking a bit of a respite.

Also on hand is former Pendergast ally, NY cop turned author turned South Hampton PD, Vincent D’Agosta. We also get to catch up with Laura Hayward, a newly minted NY police captain when a second, equally demonic incident occurs in the Big Apple.

The tale leads from the Hamptons to New York onward to Italy itself, as the mystery unfurls around our heroes, and the dastardly villain at the heart of the satanic occurrences is revealed. But this may be a more terrible villain than any he’s encountered before; Pendergast may not be able to survive! There are tricks and scares, a famous Stradivarius violin thought lost, horrific fates, and new relationships, the world-building and character development and interaction continue.

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In a story filled with rumored encounters and pacts with the Devil, assassination attempts, pursuit by hunters and packs of dogs, and dark homages to Edgar Allen Poe, the authors waste no time, keeping the thrills and chills coming in the rapidly paced way that have become trademarks of the series. There are also some interesting revelations, alongside Aloysius’ name… We see Pendergast possibly lovestruck, we’re introduced to a ward, Constance, who was the unseen watcher depicted in the last book, having survived within the cabinet of curiosities. There is also the threat of the imminent arrival of the series’ Moriarty to Pendergast’s Holmes…. his brother, Diogenes, who Pendergast openly admits is not only insane, but possibly more brilliant than he.

We may also have gotten some glimpses of him in the final chapters of the book as things turn desperate for D’Agosta and Pendergast. In fact, I’m almost positive it must be him, and it seems things will be going from the frying pan right into the fire with the next book, which is saying something because things become rather dire for our heroes in this tale.

These novels continue to be dark, engaging, thrilling, often filled with scares and terrible happenings. I felt, this time around, that a lot of the things happening in New York with Laura, a reporter and a sea of religious fanatics after D’Agosta and Pendergast had left it, felt kind of tacked on, but overall, another very enjoyable entry into the series, and I’ll be very interested to see what happens in the next book – Dance of Death!

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