What a book!

July 13, 2010

Review: Fever Dream

Fever Dream (Pendergast, #10)Fever Dream by Douglas Preston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gave this an extra star because I thought Agent Pendergast had about run his course in the Diogenes trilogy of this series of books and even in the last one, ‘Cemetery Dance.’

However, even in those books of theirs where my interest wanes, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child write stories that you can’t help but keep turning the page, reading just one more chapter. Any of these books are just plain fun to read, and people tend to forget that sometimes, reading just needs to be fun.

So, on to this book. Like I said, I thought Pendergast had run his course, when Preston/Child bring out … his wife! His late wife, to be exact, killed on a safari 12 years ago. But it turns out, it was actually murder most foul. And complicated. Like cheesy Bond villain/Dr. Evil needlessly complicated (although it’s a lion, not ill-tempered sharks with frickin’ lasers).

So Pendergast enlists Vincent D’Agosta (of course) at the drop of a hat to help him solve his wife’s murder. (Mild spoiler coming) And when D’Agosta can no longer, um, assist in the case, D’Agosta’s girlfriend, NYPD Capt. Laura Hayward. is drafted to help.

Like I said, this book is full of all kinds of ridiculousness, not the least of which is Pendergast’s bad-assery coupled with how trouble seems to blow away with a couple sentences or fight moves. But again, these books are just plain fun. Do yourself a favor and read them all.

View all my reviews >>

March 14, 2010

Impact by Douglas Preston

All right, last Douglas Preston book (since it’s his latest and I’m now caught up).

Remember what I said about thrillers being silly? This one can be silly. Once again, just shut up, read and enjoy the ride.

That ride started out a little slowly for my taste. In fact, the image book, which once again features former CIA operative/monk Wyman Ford, is divided in two parts, and the setup part, Part I, seemed to go a little slow, even introducing some characters that I didn’t see too much point for having, while not developing other characters who eventually figured prominently in Part II.

Speaking of Part II, the book picks up considerably, with the last 150 pages or so written so you’ll be pushing lights out at night, repeating “Just one more chapter, just one more chapter.”

As usual, Preston mixes action with science and even ventures into sci-fi territory. But like I said, just relax and enjoy the ride.

I’m still not sold on Wyman Ford as a main character yet. He still seems kind of thinly drawn after three novels, two of which belong to him. Perhaps that’s the intention, as he’s a CIA guy, designed to blend in and play any role.

Also in this book, the final reveal of who the actual villain seemed a little too last minute and tidy, kind of a villanus ex machina, I guess.

But that said, this is still a fun read. Also interesting is the story of a trip he took to Cambodia for National Geographic that helped inspire this story.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s website.

February 26, 2010

Blasphemy, The Codex by Douglas Preston

I remember reading on a music blog somewhere once last year (if you know it, please share a link, I can’t find it) that rock music is at its best when it’s a bit silly and the bands don’t take themselves too seriously. I think the same applies to thrillers.

And while I am sure Douglas Preston certainly is serious about writing, I do love how his novels (which some are now saying will make him the heir to Michael Crichton in the genre) can get so preposterous that you can’t help but have a good time reading them.

He might be known to you for his novels with co-author Lincoln Child (Relic, The Ice Limit, etc.) but his solo efforts are great reads as well.

I simultaneously read and listened to two of his books. I read The Codex and listened to Blasphemy.

The Codex is a few years old and has Mayans, jungle adventure, a book of ancient codexwisdom, all that fun stuff. A wealthy art and antiquities collector and all around grumpy old bastard of a dad dies and has himself buried in a tomb somewhere. He leaves a videotape for his sons, entreating them to work together to find him. If they can do it, his fortune, worth half a billion dollars, is theirs.

Of course, they don’t work together at the start, and that’s where all the skeezy villains start working their way in to the brothers’ lives. This book is written in a classic page-turner fashion and while it drags briefly in spots, it mostly moves quickly and has plenty of crazy-silly action bits (not as silly as watching The Transporter, but just as much fun).

Blasphemy is Preston’s second novel to feature ex-CblasphemyIA operative-turned-monk-turned-private investigator Wyman Ford (the first being Tyrannosaur Canyon). A team of scientists are stationed at the largest particle accelerator ever built, located on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. They discover … something (is it a software glitch, is it God, is it something else?) but keep silent. The government sends Ford out to find out why the suddenly can’t get the accelerator online.

Not too many thrillers get too much into the discussion of science and religion and whether the two can coexist or not. But this one tries, with all kinds of fun science thrown in.

Some Christian folks might be offended by parts of the book, but the “villains” who happen to be Christians in this book are done as such over-the-top caricatures that any reasonable person, Christian or not, shouldn’t be all that upset (and the folks who are really like the characters in this book aren’t going to be reading this book at all anyway). But if it makes you feel any better, the non-Christians have plenty of wackiness written into them, too.

If you like techno-thrillers with plenty of action but without the pages-long diversions for the exact step by step process by which every model of nuclear reactor or computer has worked, then Preston is for you. If you liked Michael Crichton before he got so way serious (so like Eaters of the Dead but not State of Fear) or have read any books by Matt Reilly, you’ll like Preston.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s website.

Blog at WordPress.com.