Thursday, December 10, 2015

Crimson Shore by Preston & Child

Special FBI Agent A.X.L. Pendergast has often reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. Readers familiar with this series will recall that authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have made reference to and offered a homage to Holmes in several adventures, particularly White Fire. I think from the standpoint of the general plot, Crimson Shore is reminiscent of a classic Sherlock Holmes adventure. It is also one of the strangest tales yet for Aloysius Pendergast. Yet this is no mere pastiche or homage. Crimson Shore is a compelling and riveting original detective story. People don’t use the phrase “detective story” too much these days. I think it’s appropriate here because Pendergast uses his deductive ability to great effect. But let’s not nitpick if an FBI Agent qualifies as a “detective” or if you have a better label for this series. Crimson Shore is pretty damn good. Pendergast is accompanied by his ward, Constance Greene, who adds an unexpected level of sensuality to this tale. When Pendergast is enticed to investigate the theft of a fabulous wine collection in the seaside village of Exmouth, he discovers that this quaint little town is hiding a great many secrets. These secrets involve an ancient coven of witches descended from the famous witches of nearby Salem, a local legend of a monster living in the marsh, and the tale of a coastal shipwreck in 1692 which has relevance on all of these intriguing puzzle pieces. Sherlock Holmes himself would have loved this mystery. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child continue to impress me with this series which I consider the pre-eminent series on the market. Aloysius Pendergast tops them all. The plot twists in the final third of this book left me breathless; and the final few pages are stunning. Obviously a sequel is in the works, and when you read the conclusion to Crimson Shore be careful not to fall out of your chair like I almost did.

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