Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child give Agent Pendergast a fresh start of sorts in his 18th novel, “Verses for the Dead” (December, hardcover). Series like the Constance trilogy and the Helen trilogy are conclusions to long-simmering threads, and the standalone before this one, “City of Endless Night,” is a nostalgic team-up for Pendergast and D’Agosta. But in “Verses for the Dead,” Pendergast gets a new FBI partner, Coldmoon, and he deals with office politics regarding his future with the bureau. Although the authors occasionally reference Pendergast’s death-like pallor, it’s clear he’s not interested in retirement. And his exploits in the action-packed final chapters show he hasn’t lost much vigor.
It has become comfortingly familiar at this point: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child take us – via their adventurous leads – to some corner of the Earth that still holds mysteries in the 21st century. Or that we can imagine still holds mysteries, if our knowledge of the place is sketchy enough that we can fool ourselves. The latest locale is southeastern Egypt in “The Pharaoh Key” (June 2018, hardcover), a novel that does its part to get the correct spelling of “pharaoh” back in the lexicon after the success of that darn horse.
After the often credulity-stretching “Obsidian Chamber” (2016), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child get back on track with “City of Endless Night” (January, hardcover), their 17th Pendergast novel. As the evocative title suggests, the action takes place entirely in their favorite home stomping grounds, New York City, in the winter months when it gets dark early. It’s the most straightforward mystery they’ve penned in a while, although the string of murders are certainly grisly and bizarre enough to be worthy of FBI Agent Pendergast and NYPD detective D’Agosta.
Lincoln Child has already shown his skills in the “sense of place” adventure genre with the likes of “Deep Storm” (the ocean floor), “Terminal Freeze” (the Alaskan tundra) and “The Third Gate” (the swamps of northeast Africa), and he does it again with “Full Wolf Moon” (May, hardcover), set in New York’s Adirondack Mountains and the surrounding woods. His enigmalogist lead character, Jeremy Logan, has been somewhat slow to develop, but that changes here in a more personal yarn.
“The Lost City of the Monkey God” (January, hardcover) looks from its cover like the latest Douglas Preston thriller, perhaps along the lines of “The Codex,” something about tromping through Central America in search of a lost city. But that little notation “A True Story” isn’t a “Fargo”-style joke. “Lost City” is a work of journalism chronicling the discovery of a pre-Columbian city – deserted and left to jungle encroachment 500 years ago – in the 21st century.
For the first 100 pages of “The Obsidian Chamber” (October 2016, hardcover), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s 16th Agent Pendergast novel, one word kept popping into my head: “crazy.” In almost a parody of their most credulity-pushing excesses from the Gideon Crew books, Pendergast’s butler Proctor chases Constance and her kidnapper all over the globe. In a matter of mere days, he’s trekking across the Kalahari Desert in Africa and fighting off lions. The prose has a numb, relentless quality, but it’s still insane.
After receiving “many thousands” of letters and emails asking for a sequel to “The Ice Limit” (2000) (as they recount in an author’s note), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child finally go “Beyond the Ice Limit” (May 2016, hardcover; now in paperback). As those readers sensed, and as the authors realize in this 374-page novel, there is more story to tell – and it’s a good one that stirs up a lot of sci-fi thoughts and ideas.
“Crimson Shore” (November 2015 hardcover; now in paperback) is in many ways a classic standalone Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child potboiler, but it also has character, plot and thematic elements that push the Agent Pendergast series forward. The first thing readers will notice when delving into this 15th Pendergast novel is the sense of place, which isn’t unusual, although this particular location is.
It took several Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child novels for Pendergast to become an icon, so it’s no wonder that the other ongoing characters in the authors’ works are taking a while to build into something. The duo is starting to make headway with Gideon Crew through three novels, and now Child is making progress with Professor Jeremy Logan in Logan’s third novel (and Child’s sixth solo book), “The Forgotten Room” (May, hardcover), a rather light and breezy effort compared to most of his books.
For their 14th Pendergast novel, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child do more than merely pay lip service to the evocative location that put them on the map with “Relic” nearly two decades ago. Margo Green, haunted by the events of “Relic” and “Reliquary” – and even more so, “Dance of Death” — is once again stalked through the bowels of the New York Museum of Natural History in “Blue Labyrinth” (November 2014, hardcover).