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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another Two-fer: Cemetery Dance and Fever Dreams

Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction website:

Cemetery Dance

William Smithback, a NY Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archeologist, are found brutally attacked in their apartment on the Upper West side of Manhattan. Eyewitnesses claim and the security camera confirms the killer seen leaving the building was the strange, sinister man who had previously occupied Smithback and Kelly's apartment---and who had died horribly in it exactly one year ago.

Captain Hayward leads the official homicide investigation, while Pendergast and D'Agosta undertake a private quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them into a part of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive and deadly hotbed of Obeah, the West Indian Zombii cult of sorcery and magic. And it is here they find their true peril is just beginning.

Fever Dream
At the old family manse in Louisiana, Special Agent Pendergast is putting to rest long-ignored possessions reminiscent of his wife Helen's tragic death, only to make a stunning-and dreadful-discovery. Helen had been mauled by an unusually large and vicious lion while they were big game hunting in Africa. But now, Pendergast learns that her rifle-her only protection from the beast-had been deliberately loaded with blanks. Who could have wanted Helen dead...and why?

With Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta's assistance, Pendergast embarks on a quest to uncover the mystery of his wife's murder. It is a journey that sends him deep into her past where he learns much that Helen herself had wished to keep hidden. Helen Pendergast had nursed a secret obsession with the famed naturalist-painter John James Audubon, in particular a long-lost painting of his known as the Black Frame.

As Pendergast probes more deeply into the riddle-the answer to which is revealed in a night of shocking violence, deep in the Louisiana bayou-he finds himself faced with an even greater question: who was the woman he married?

Yep, another “two-fer” review, and I swear I will get caught up someday. I always read the newest in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Pendergast series. And as usual, these books moved the series along. The problem I have, and it’s probably mine alone; the result of failing memory in my feebling middle age, is that I tend to not remember details that I think were probably specific to a previous book. For example, the character of Constance, Pendergast’s ward. I remember there was something important about her, but for the life of me, I just can’t remember what it was. And since her character shows up in the typical enigmatic fashion in Fever Dream, I was irritated with myself. I wish the authors would somehow figure out a way to refresh my memory, but then I suppose that all the smarter readers who are without memory problems would complain that the authors are re-hashing too much. There’s probably no solution that would please everyone. Maybe I’ll go Wikipedia her…

Cemetery Dance was okay, no real bolts of lightning or any WOW moments, but, as I said, it moves things along. I suppose the whole voodoo thing was interesting and I did like the historical aspect of the book that dealt with the shadowy weird religious cult on Manhattan island, and thought it would be so cool if it were true. I Wikipedia'd like crazy and couldn't find anything about it though, so alas, it too was a fiction. (In a novel, fiction, huh...who would've thunk it?? Oh brother..I am such a dope..) Fever Dream was slightly better, the back story of Pendergast’s wife was an interesting change from the “catch a crazy bad guy in unique and tricky ways” fare that the books usually give us. Sadly, in neither book, do the authors recapture the “page turner” effect that the first book in the series had on me. They’re okay books, but the characters are starting to feel a bit stale to me. I suppose I’ll keep reading them, out of habit. But I’m really interested to read the new series these authors have planned which will introduce a whole new character, Gideon Crew. I’ll be looking for that book next year.

(Review copies provided by Grand Central Publishing)

My ratings:

Cemetery Dance:

Fever Dream:


bermudaonion said...

Cemetery Dance was my first experience with the author's work and I enjoyed it, but thought some of the voodoo stuff was over the top. I have Fever Dream here waiting for my attention.