Friday, April 15, 2011

Novel Reviews: Fever Dream by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

As a child, I distinctly remember feeling mild sorrow whenever I finished a good book.  I loved the time that I spent with the characters and I wanted to know what happened to them after I had turned the last page.  I would create their new adventures from the whole cloth of my imagination, and live out those adventures with my friends amid the lush backdrop of the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Over time my desire for an ongoing story evolved into a deep love for serial fiction.

I was first introduced to the collaborative works of Preston and Child by my mother-in-law during the early days of my marriage.  I started by reading The Cabinet of Curiosities, which was printed in 2002.  I followed that up by finding the other works these authors have produced and reading as much of it as I could.  Thankfully, the two of them have been quite prolific since the late 90's, producing 15 novels in that time with two more announced.

By far the most captivating character the authors have created is FBI Special Agent Aloysius X. L. Pendergast.  He is very much the American answer to Sherlock Holmes.  He maintains the mannerisms and gentility of the Old-World aristocracy and handily steals every scene.  Imagine Hannibal Lecter was one of the good guys, you'd have a pretty good approximation of the character.  Paramount Pictures owns the character rights to Pendergast, which they included when they optioned Preston & Child's first Pendergast novel, Relic.  Then, in true Hollywood form, they created a terrible adaptation made even worse with the removal of Pendergast's character.

In Fever Dream, Preston and Child's most recent collaboration, Pendergast begins with a shocking realization.  His wife Helen, now dead for twelve years, was murdered.  He enlists the aid of his longtime friend NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta and together they travel to Africa to begin compiling clues.  D'Agosta's girlfriend, Captain Laura Hayward, has never been a fan of Pendergast's tactics but gets swept into the investigation as well.

I enjoyed this book immensely.  While some of the details that the authors incorporate into their plots put a strain on my ability to suspend disbelief, I can forgive them due to the fact that the books are just plain fun.  The writing is unpretentious without being condescending.  The action is well paced and the dialogue feels natural. While the plot itself is far-fetched, it doesn't strain at reality as hard as a few of it's predecessors.  It is also the beginning of "The Helen Trilogy" named for Pendergast's wife.  The very idea of a trilogy within a series makes me want to do a little happy dance, and their first attempt at this literary feat ("The Diogenes Trilogy" after Pendergast's brother) was expertly executed.  I feel some very good vibes for the next two volumes along this storyline.

One of the reasons that I love these authors is that they show no signs of quitting.  They have produced a body of quality work with only one notable misfire as far as I'm concerned.  I have plans to read their latest work, Gideon's Sword, despite the fact that Michael Bay (hisss) has already optioned it for a film.  Although as far as Michael Bay (hisss) is concerned, whatever keeps him away from my beloved childhood franchises is fine by me.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I found you on the blog hop. I am always looking for a good book.