A Pendergast Novel
By Preston & Child
Grand Central Publishing
When authors make the bestseller lists as Preston
and Child have done with their Special Agent Pendergast series, publishers love
nothing better than filling two or three pages in each new book with review
blurbs shouting the praises of the previous titles. Which is all well and good;
however we’ve noticed a trend in several reviewers to compare this unique
character with Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. Of
course there are similarities in that both men are brilliant and have uncanny
skills in solving bizarre crimes. But we’d like to suggest the one classic
fiction hero Agent Pendergast more clearly resembles is Walter Gibson’s pulp
icon the Shadow.
The answer is in the formula of each series. Whereas Holmes took
on his cases with a singular assistant, Dr. Watson, the Shadow was noted for
orchestrating his investigation via a group of highly skilled operatives. From Margo Lane, to
Harry Vincent, Shrevy and many, many others, the mysterious crime fighter
oftentimes didn’t appear in the adventure until the climax; his agents having
assembled the clues he required. Writers Preston
and Child have, over a series of 18 Pendergast mysteries, done the same thing
as this latest case so clearly demonstrates.
When over a hundred severed feet still encased in canvas
shoes wash up on the beach of Captiva, Florida,
a small, exclusive tourist town, FBI Special Agent Pendergast is assigned the
baffling case. Whereas when operating from his homebase in New York City, the silver-haired Pendergast is
often is assisted by Lt. Vincent D’Agosta, archeologist Nora Kelly or
butler/chauffeur Proctor and others; all of them capable of standing toe to toe
with any of the Shadow’s group.
Now, away from home, Pendergast employs another group of
skilled individuals to assist him starting with his own ward, the mysterious
Constance Greene, a young lady a whole lot older than normal science dictates.
FBI Agent Coldmoon, half-Italian, half Lakota Sioux with a pension for burnt
coffee and Sheriff P.B. Perelman, an intellectual turned peace officer. Over
the course of their investigation, Pendergast’s team will cover the globe from manufacturing
provinces in China to a small
jungle village in Guatemala
collecting the various strings that ultimately lead back to a twisted cabal
that will stop at nothing to achieve their horrendous goals.
We’ve been a fan of the Pendergast series from the first entry and continue to relish each new book. “Crooked River” is one of the best thus far. If you love modern pulp fiction done with flair and panache, this one will keep you up all night.