Crooked River, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
I have been languishing on my chaise-longue (not really: I don’t have one), in a decline because I have been deprived for too long of the latest adventures of fearless, resourceful and brilliant FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast – what have Preston and Child been doing? Having a holiday? At the very least they should have been satisfying their legions of fans with a bloodthirsty new mystery that only that silver-haired, silver-tongued and silver-eyed polymath could solve. The wait has been disappointingly long: I shall say nothing more, except that it’s about time!
Our hero and his mysterious ward Constance Greene (she wears a lot of organdy; he wears a white silk suit, making him resemble an Albino Drug Lord) are enjoying a luxurious vacation on an unnamed island off the coast of Florida, when they are visited by his new superior ADC Walter Pickett: Pendergast’s help and input are needed ASAP as dozens of shoes of the same variety have drifted onto the shore of two of Florida’s most charming off-shore island tourist beaches. This would be minor news – but for the fact that each shoe is filled with a foot, amputated in the crudest possible fashion. Needless to say, Pendergast’s curiosity is indeed aroused and he swings into action, first recruiting FBI Agent Coldmoon, his colleague from ‘Verses for the Dead’. Agent Coldmoon is vacationing too, and is most reluctant to be involved – unless he’s an equal partner: none of this junior colleague shit – he wants recognition for nearly getting totalled in the Everglades. It’s time to acknowledge his talent.
Well, if that’s the price, so be it. Agent Pendergast knows how and when to relent: as we all know, there are many different ways to skin a cat, and he, Coldmoon and Constance are launched on another hair-raising, bloodthirsty quest for answers, including the fact that whatever knowledge they glean is available also to a very formidable enemy: everything they find out has been hacked.
As the mystery gradually reveals itself the danger multiplies ten-fold, with Pendergast’s life within an inch of being snuffed out (again!), but Coldmoon demonstrates his worth as a true partner, and Constance appears as the Cavalry – in the nick of time, naturally, slaying all before her. What a woman! And where did she learn to operate (let alone carry – she’s a slight wee thing!) a military machine gun? Well, as we all know, all things are possible in a Pendergast adventure; the trick is to make it believable – and above all, entertaining: Preston and Child are masters at it. FIVE STARS.