By Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Way back in 2002 a good friend sent us a copy of the book, “The
Cabinet of Curiosities” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. In was in this
book that we first encountered FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. What we
didn’t know at the time was it was the character’s third appearance in a book
by these two writers. Later we would learn he had first appeared in “Relic,”
(1995) a horror thriller that was later adapted into a feature film. Now we
hadn’t read “Relic” but we had seen and enjoyed the movie. Sadly, in the
process of bringing the story to the screen, the screen writers opted to trim
the large cast of characters and Pendergast was one of the casualties of those
Buoyed by the success of that first collaboration, Preston and Child wrote a sequel, “Reliquary” (1997) and
once again brought back Pendergast as part of the original cast of characters
from the previous thriller. Again, at the time, we were totally oblivious to
any of this. Or the fact that Pendergast role slowly growing even though he was
still part of an ensemble of players. With the arrival of “The Cabinet of
Curiosities” he took center stage and quickly gathered a huge fandom. Soon the
series became the Pendergast books and each continued to expand his popularity.
It remains our personal favorite such.
Recently we found a new paperback edition of “Reliquary” and
immediately picked it up. We were amused at the sub-title indicating it was “The
Second Novel in the Pendergast Series.” How things had changed. Being familiar
with the movie version of “Relic” we had no trouble digging into this story and
realized quickly that it is most assuredly a follow up. In fact one might
rightly call it a Part Two of the same tale. In “Relic” a scientist returns
from a trip to the Amazon infected by an exotic plant. Upon his return to New York City and the
Natural History Musuem, it transforms him physically into a monstrous beast
that then terrorizes and murders lots of people before being vanquished.
In “Reliquary” several of his museum colleagues have
discovered the truth behind the monster and begin expirementing with what
remains of the alien plant. These secret expirement leads to creation of as yet
another mental and physical altering drug and they begin testing it on the
homeless “moles” that live beneath the streets of the city. Soon these poor
souls are turned into horrible creatures and begin killing people at random.
When a rich young debutant becomes one of their victims and her headless corpse
is discovered in the river, the police begin to investigate and eventually Lt.
Vincent D’Agosta and Dr. Nora Kelly, a museum curator, are once again teaming
up to solve the grisly murders. It is no surprise when, a quarter into the
book, Agent Pendergast appears we readers are once again enjoying another fast
paced, fantastic thriller like no other.
Being Pendergast fans, we’re happy to have had this chance to read one of his earliest appearances and as ever cannot wait for his newest book.