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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

“Cemetery Dance” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Preston & Child Website
Order Cemetery Dance HERE:

Read Mihir's Interview with the authors HERE:

Book Info: The hardcover edition of the novel is 435 pages long. The story is divided into 85 chapters with an epilogue as well. The book also has an authors' note regarding all their works, the chronological reading order and a bit about the agent Pendergast series.

The Cast of Characters include regulars of the earlier books like Lt. Vincent D'Agosta, Captain Laura Hayward, Nora Kelly along with cameos of a few others. In all their novels, Preston & Child have either a one-off or a couple of chapters POV from minor or new characters and in "Cemetery Dance" we are introduced to Caitlyn Kidd. The usual cameos from Wren, Proctor & Cornelia Pendergast leave the readers wondering more about their enigmatic pasts & the authors will hopefully reveal more in future series installments.

The book is narrated in the 3rd person and has POV's from Pendergast, D'Agosta, Nora Kelly & Laura Hayward as well as the above mentioned minor/new characters like Caitlyn Kidd.

Overview & Analysis: "Cemetery Dance" is another of the many collaborations of the two authors in 15 years now and the readers can let go of their triskaidekaphobic thoughts since the novel is not cursed by its 13th label so to speak, but it is excellent. The novel is also the ninth appearance of FBI Agent A.X.L. Pendergast, while being the seventh book with him as the main protagonist. In "Relic & Reliquary", Pendergast was more of a supporting character than a leading protagonist.

However his first solo appearance in "Cabinet of Curiosities" gained the authors a multitude of fans as they ventured into horror-thriller territory. Since then the Agent Pendergast books have been a staple diet of many fans as layer by layer of intrigue has been revealed about the hero in each book leading to this one.

Though "Cemetery Dance" is written as a standalone novel & can be enjoyed as such, it would be more sensible for the reader to have some previous knowledge of the characters and their past. Readers who would like to understand the entire back-story might want to start from the 1st book "Relic" and then work their way through the remaining books. This will also lend credibility to the authors' thoughts and purposes in the creation & development of Pendergast. If you are impatient to read this book, just go ahead, but you have been warned and there are spoilers ahead for the series!!

The novel begins with the murder of one of the most beloved characters in the DPLC-verse which has happened previoulsy; however the authors insert a hook: the assumed murderer, Colin Fearing has already been dead for 10 days & by most bystander accounts he seemed to have been moving akin to a zombie.

The novel then races off with further attacks on Nora Kelly, Smithback's wife as well as certain other gruesome murders & events. Pendergast who is usually very scientific in his approach to investigations accepts where the Occam's Razor principle leads and begins his case checking out known things about Haitian Voodoo & Zombiis. There is also a strange cult in NYC which has a past history of animal sacrifice & various other nefarious activities. The authors keep the relentless paceend to end and also pepper the book with quirky facts about Haitian customs, the practices of Voodoo, Obeah & the word "Zombiis".

However as in previous novels, the reader is never sure which track the authors intend to follow & the actual happenings surrounding the murder will indeed come as a surprise to many. The authors have also mentioned previously that no one is truly safe in their books & they prove it here with the death of Smithback.

This book is more in the vein of "Cabinet of Curiosities" having a huge horror element running through it; most readers will be immediately sucked into the story. "Cemetary Dance" is highly recommended for series regulars as well for newer readers searching for great thrillers.

Just a statutory warning: these books are highly addictive!!; once you read one, you will be compeleld to re-read it as well as read the other series installements to expand your DPLC-verse experience. I believe Messrs Preston & Child strive for this and I think they achieve it superbly.

The story ends with some premonitions about Pendergast's future while the threads started here have a concrete ending. It will indeed be fun to find out about what the future holds for Agent Pendergast.

As a further tidbit, I note that the authors have revealed that the next book will feature a new character who has played a crucial role in Pendergast's life, while remaining a mystery to the readers so far. Who might it be? I think I know for sure; the clues for you dear reader might lie within this book.


Anonymous said...

It would have been nice to hear your opinions of this books. It's like you told us the plot and what's it about but nothing about what makes it so good and stuff.

I am very sad to see the quality of FBC going down like this. :(

Fabio Fernandes said...

Excellent review, Mihir! Welcome to the team! :-)

Liviu said...

As the ninth book in a series, you either got it so far or not.

Mihir who is into Preston/Child, liked it as you can see and I trust his instincts, so again you are into Preston/Child, read it, you are not, forget it, wanna try, better start with book 1.

Review sites are all over these days so I am sure there will be one there to compensate.

The Reader said...

Hi Fabio & Liviu

Thank you for your kind words.

@ Anonymous

Well I'm sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy the review. I could tell you more about the plot but then it would spoil the plot for you.

Its your opinion & you are welcome to it. I hope further reviews change your mind, if not then like Liviu said there are plenty other blogs to consider.

Have a nice day.


Cindy said...

Sometimes it's hard to review a book in a series. As you don't want to spoil something for readers.

As a reviewer that's my biggest fear is ruining a book by revealing a plot line :(.

I don't read Preston and Child so I can't say what could and couldn't be said. I'll just go based on Mihir that he revealed what he could and such :)

~Rose F. said...

My husband read the Pendergast series and highly recommended to me. This is the one I'm reading now and it's excellent! I can hardly put it down. I talk to my hubby about the book and the "Zombies" and he said: "Are you sure they are Zombies?" - "What do you mean... aren't they?" I asked. - "Sorry, don't want to spoil the end". Ahhh. Came to this page looking for a spoiler but can't find one anywhere. So, back to my reading.

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