Book Review: Crimson Shore (Preston & Child)

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crimson shore

Crimson Shore

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

ISBN: 1455525928 (ISBN13: 9781455525928)

November 10, 2015

Grand Central Publishing

Agent Pendergast receives an unusual request from a sculptor in Exmouth, Massachusetts to privately investigate the theft of his very expensive wine collection. Pendergast nearly refuses something so pedustrian as a theft–until he hears that an extremely rare wine wasn’t touched at all. Agreeing to take one of the sought-after bottles as payment, Pendergast and his ward Constance find that the theft was anything but pedestrian.

Evidence of a walled-in skeleton in the sculptor’s basement uncovers a centuries-old murder that is the real reason for the theft. The desiccated body contained something far more sought-after than expensive collector’s wine.

This is the fifteenth installment in the Pendergast series. We’ve seen a lot of development over time in Pendergast and his associates, and this novel hints at more revelations to come. The first three quarters of the book is what we’ve come to expect and like about the Pendergast novels; a crime uncovers something with a complicated history, Pendergast does clever things to get people to say or do something that betrays their motivation, and he creeps people out by being cool and unshakable. We even get to see more of Constance coming into her own as an investigator, and learning to interact with modern people. The last quarter of the book however…is a bit different.

Typically, we’re given a bit more clues and lead-in when things are going to get quite sideways and weird. In earlier books like Still Life With Crows, the otherworldly stories and fore-shadowing are woven into the story solidly enough that even when we’re hit with something strange that has an earthly explanation, the reader is expecting it. Not so much with Crimson Shore.

Crimson Shore feels like it ends with the dramatic conclusion to the case, but then wallops the reader with something that was barely discussed in the case and given almost no clues or foreshadowing that it was coming. It results in that last bit of frenetic action feeling somewhat tacked on, and more an artificial vehicle for the aforementioned revelations.

Enjoyable, but not the best installment of the series.

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JL JamiesonBook Review: Crimson Shore (Preston & Child)