Saturday, September 20, 2008

Book: The Book of the Dead

Speaking of fluff...

After the last book (Dance of Death) was such a dud, I was kind of concerned about continuing the series. However, this one was outstanding. "Outstanding" being a relative term, of course.

When we last left Agent Pendergast, he was being carted off to prison. His evil brother, Diogenes, was on the loose, his false identity intact, and the threat of an even bigger crime looming. Since I was unimpressed with the whole diamond heist thing, I was curious what would trump that. Mass-induced psychosis was a pretty good solution.

There were multiple storylines happening, each one actually interesting, engaging and well-played.

Storyline 1: The Museum of Natural History needs to do something to rescue their reputation after the massive theft of their diamonds. Turns out they have an authentic Egyptian crypt in the bowels of the museum, bricked-over in the 30s. Ta-da! Time to put on a show. Diogenes, in his guise as Dr. Menzies, is a major proponent of this project and it turns into something fantastic. Except when people start to lose their minds... and the murders begin again.

Storyline 2: Agent Pendergast, locked away in a maximum security prison from which no-one has ever escaped, needs to get out, and fast. Thankfully his friends, Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta & Co. (a motley crew of uber-intelligent misfits), devise a fool-proof plan to break him out. Will it work? (this part was surprisingly fascinating)

Storyline 3: Searching for the ultimate revenge upon his brother for "The Event" which scarred him, body and soul, forever -- Diogenes launches a seduction of Constance Greene, a mysterious girl who is the ward of Agent Pendergast.

And yes, we do finally learn what "The Event" was and it was pretty horrifying. Also potentially horrifying was the Big Crime.

Somewhat mystifying and annoying was the last 1/5 of the book, which was the fallout of all Diogenes' actions. It wasn't too bad, just didn't really make very much sense.

However, that totally does not negate the fantastic action and fun of the rest of this book. It's too bad that you really need to read Dance of Death before Book of the Dead, because the former was kind of a yawner (although the latter totally makes up for it). I realized that part of why I didn't enjoy Dance of Death very much was because there was no supernatural element to it. I'm really not big on straight thrillers (generally speaking), so it was a pretty straightforward storyline and sort of bored me.

I am now reading the last book in the series (to date), which is not too exciting so far and I'm really considering if I should take a break and read something else, but it's a fairly short paperback and I'm already half-way through, so I might as well finish it. I have one more novel in the Pendergast series, the 3rd one (which I somehow skipped), and I might save that one, although it looks very good.

Frankly I'm not very interested in the other books these authors have written since I mostly just love the supernatural element and the Agent Pendergast character. So that's just as well, since it's high time to move on to other authors. I think that next up, after this last novel which I should probably finish tonight, is Lost Boy Lost Girl, for the R.I.P. challenge. I can't wait! Terri also gave me Ghost Story by Peter Straub which I have heard is very, very scary and good. I am trying to wait for October to read that one.

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