Dance of Death (2005) – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

It’s been a while since I checked in with FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast, Preston and Child’s modern, American answer to Doyle’s Holmes.

Last time we checked in with him, he was left in a bit of dire straits as his friend Vincent D’Agosta fled for his life.

The story picks up a couple of short months after Pendergast’s presumed death, and D’Agosta is trying to get on with his life until a note, seemingly from beyond the grave arrives from Pendergast, asking Vincent to undertake a mission. A mission of life or death, as Pendergast’s devious, insane, and villainous brother, Diogenes is planning a crime and revenge.

Aloysius reveals his continued existence to D’Agosta, as needs must, but keeps his return a secret to the rest of the world, in an attempt to get ahead of Diogenes. His brother, however, has other plans, and Pendergast’s friends, mentors and acquaintances begin to pile up as Diogenes murders them, and frames Pendergast for the crime.

The book brings back almost all of the characters we’ve been introduced to over the series of stories, but not all of them may survive to its end.

Preston and Child have penned a tightly coiled novel that rockets along, taking a very basic concept, brother against brother, geniuses both, and constantly amping it up a notch.


With their usual eye for detail, Preston and Child fill out the world of Pendergast and his allies, we check in with familiar names at the Times, and at the Museum of Natural History. We are privy to changes in all of his characters’ lives as relationships have developed, some to succeed, and some that will flounder.

It’s big, expansive, entertaining, and incredibly riveting. A top-notch thriller, that serves as the second book in what has become known as the Diogenes Trilogy.

I don’t think I will wait so long between books next time, but it’s a credit to their writing that within a few pages, I recalled all the important details from the previous books, and thus got quickly reacquainted with all of the characters, and remembered where they were in the course of their own emotional journeys.

This best-selling series is brilliantly entertaining, and while Pendergast is in fact a little too Holmesian at times, he is still a wonderful creation, and I love seeing (well reading I guess) how he resolves things, and at what cost.

Everything the characters do have very real repercussions, but Aloysius is determined to stop his brother, no matter what the cost.

A helluva read.



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