As it did for many fans, “Relic” (1995) launched my appreciation for the books of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – both as a duo and as individual authors. I’ve devoured all of their fiction since their co-authored debut, and in some ways they have improved as writers, but always in the back of my mind was how good “Relic” was and how I’d like to re-read it. I had recalled it being better than Michael Crichton’s “The Lost World,” which came out the same year.
In Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s co-authored debut “Relic” (1995), Agent Pendergast is already established in his career. The same goes for Lt. D’Agosta and other staples of their quarter century of novels. What’s particularly neat about “Old Bones” (August, hardcover) is we see the very first case of FBI Agent Corrie Swanson, whom we first met as a punkish Kansas teen in “Still Life with Crows” (2003).
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.
“The Relic” – The book by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is the scariest novel ever written, so there was really no way director Peter Hyams could fail. “The Relic” stands apart from its genre brethren with the mystery that runs parallel to the scares and the chilling setting of the Chicago Natural History Museum. With its hallways, storage rooms and sub-basements, the museum is the ideal place for a horror movie. “The Relic” also features one of the best lines in cinema history, Tom Sizemore’s deadpan “What’s he doing, starting a hypothalamus collection?”
– John Hansen, “The 25 coolest science fiction movies,” NDSU Spectrum, Sept. 1, 1998
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.