Still Life with Crows
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Still Life with Crows (Pendergast #4)

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  16,495 ratings  ·  789 reviews
A small Kansas town has turned into a killing ground. Is it a serial killer, a man with the need to destroy? Or is it a darker force, a curse upon the land? Amid golden cornfields, FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers evil in the blood of America's heartland.
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Published July 28th 2003 by Hachette Audio (first published 2003)
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Dirk Grobbelaar

Revisited Review

On the back of my edition of 'Still Life With Crows' there is a blurb that states: These guys are masters at scaring the hell out of people. Turns out... they actually are.

In this case, it was certainly true. I'd been reading a slew of horror and suspense novels, and this one was certainly one of the scariest. Some other reviewers weren't too fond of the setting, but I loved it. I've always enjoyed 'Small Town Horror' settings. No, this isn't quite the same thing as 'Salem's Lot...more
StoryTellerShannon
As usual high quality writing but some might feel the ending was a tad below the previous books. One always likes to have clues to the murderer before they're revealed and some might argue there were not enough but I thought there were enough once you got to a certain point in the novel. This tale takes us away from NYC to a hamlet sized town named Medicine Creek which is suffering from economic depression.

Things even get worse as locals are murdered in the cornfields amidst peculiar ritual pra...more
Kirsten
I have a little crush on Aloysius Pendergast, I do believe. He's a great character; very Sherlock Holmes-esque, but rather more bizarre -- he makes Sherlock Holmes seem like a normal guy.

Anyhoo, I really enjoyed this; I thought it was a lot better than Brimstone, which is the other Pendergast novel I've read (yes, I know I'm reading them all out of order); the secondary characters were fleshed out nicely, and there was a lot of good humor as the natives of a tiny Kansas town try to figure out wh...more
Kasia S.
The fourth book in the series has plenty of thrills, chills and surprises but the format changes from the usual Preston/Child way of tackling this saga. The backdrop of New York City is left behind, Special Agent Pendergast takes a small "vacation" which is only a cover up for tackling yet another gruesome case, this time taking place in remote town of Medicine Creek, Kansas. Quite a change from the mysterious urban setting we see Pendergast in, his usual friends and helpers are missing as well,...more
Jean
You can't beat Preston and Child for macabre mystery genre. In this book we find Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast arriving mysteriously in Medicine Creek, Kansas. A nowhere town headed nowhere, until the Kansas State University takes an interest in the town as a site to test genetically altered corn.
Unfortunately a series of bizarre murders threatens that plan from ever becoming a reality. Agent Pendergast is in a race to prevent more murders while trying to keep from being run out of town by...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Agent Pendergast shows up again at an unusual place....mostly due to his interest in esoteric murders. The elasticity of his relationship with the FBI is a continual topic of conversation among those who know him.

I enjoyed this book also (it's the source of one of my favorite quotes, especially if you can imagine it in Pendergast'a New Orleans accent. When asked why he always wears black he responds "I am partial to the color". Okay I said it was one of MY favorite quotes.) The weirdness of the...more
Irena
Different setting, different people and different type of a killer. The setting, a very small town in Kansas, is what you would expect from a place with three hundred or so people. They argue a lot, gossip and want to know everything. As in the first three books, you get the rich who want something, but the inconvenient murder is getting in their way. I like the choice of the setting. It is isolated and small.

Pendergast's interest is peaked when someone killed a man in Medicine Creek in a grueso...more
Michael Knudsen
It's not perfect but it remains one of my favorite novels of all time. Along with The Relic I consider it to be the high point of P&C's efforts, and the most fun and original of Pendergast's exploits.

Aloysius Pendergast, the independently wealthy decorated FBI Agent from the New Orleans field office, arrives in the sweltering backwater of Medicine Creek, Kansas, just after a bizarre murder scene is discovered in a cornfield just outside of town. Pendergast announces that he is "on vacation"...more
Sarah
Agent Pendergast's crime-solving adventures continues in Still Life with Crows. This time, he gets away from NYC and enters a different way of life, and almost a different time period, when he sets out to investigate a grisly murder in the cornfields of Kansas. The opening scene is gruesome and unforgettable. A murdered woman is found in the middle of a cleared cornfield with arrowheads and dead birds surrounding her. The murders continue from there.

The rest of the book seems to follow in the e...more
Sue Smith
Lordy - what a book!!!

Great ending too - you've got to love a book that goes out with a bang!!! Especially when it grabbed you from the get go. This story had it all - creepy ripe cornfields, gruesome murder scene with hallmarks of a very sick mind, small town politics and characters and a local historical landmark that speaks of supernatural doings and a legend of a very old curse that may have been awakened. I mean - what more could you ask for?!

Oh - and did I mention it's in the middle of K...more
Scott Rhee
Fans of "Brimstone" will enjoy this, another exciting thriller starring FBI agent Pendergast by the writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. In "Still Life With Crows", the setting is the American Heartland, where a series of gruesome killings amongst the cornfields has authorities baffled. Enter SA Pendergast, a mysterious soft-spoken agent who claims to be working in an unofficial capacity (on his vacation, no less). He soon uncovers that there is something more troubling than a seri...more
Lee
Instead of New York City, Pendergast is tromping around the dusty cornfields of western Kansas. Supposedly there on vacation, to help the locals investigating a gruesome killing. Without his '59 Rolls Royce at the beginning of the story, he walks from the sheriff's office to check on a room. I can imagine the 'ol lady looking out her window, and seeing this pale looking man, dressed like an undertaker, strolling down the dirt road....I'm sure she thought death was coming to knock on her door. He...more
Laura
As with all my guilty pleasures, my enjoyment of the fun things outweighs the irritation caused by the guilty bits. In the cases of Pendergast novels, the guilty bits are the wild implausibilities in both setting and some of the characters.

The delicious yummy things in this novel included:

The corn. I have no idea why, but I loved the setting the middle of all that corn. There was one particularly good quote about it too: "It wasn't natural, to be surrounded by so much goddamned corn. It made peo...more
Cindy Lynn
"Hazen found himself marveling at the geometrical precision with which the circle had been formed. At one end of the clearing stood a miniature forest of sharpened sticks, two to three feet high, pushed into the earth, their cruel-looking ends pointed upward. At the precise middle of the clearing stood a circle of dead crows spitted on stakes. Only they weren't stakes, but Indian arrows, each topped by a flaked point. There were at least a couple dozen of the birds, maybe more, their vacant eyes...more
Hali Sowle
The 4th book in the Pendergast series takes place away from the usual location of NYC. In the very small town of Medicine Creek, KS a brutal murder has taken place and the killer has taken the time to decorate the murder scene with the bodies of dead crows. Special Agent Pendergast is on vacation, trying to put some space between himself and the terrible happenings in the basement of the house on Riverside Drive that belonged to his ancestor, but Pendergast's idea of a vacation is to investigate...more
Katy
This was a wonderfully tightly plotted story with a stunning twist to the conclusion that literally left me breathless - and gave me the biggest case of the creeps I have had from a book in years!

Those who have read the Pendergast novels know all about Agent Pendergast's predilection for luxury, so it is a surprise to find him showing up in a small town in Kansas to investigate an unusual death with ritualistic aspects. While folks in the town are all stirred up over it, there is an undercurren...more
Barbara
This is one of my favorite Pendergast novels. Here, the agent is ostensibly on vacation in America's heartland when he comes across a horrific murder and believes at first that a serial killer is working in a small farm town. The town's near dead and its only hope for survival is receiving a field of bioengineered corn developed by KSU.

However, other deaths begin occurring and Pendergast enlists the aid of the local goth, a teen named Corrie Swanson. The authors credit their kids for inspiratio...more
Gordon
"Great, if not Best Stand Alone Book for Pendergast Fans"

There is the Diogenes series, the recent series involved with searching for truths to his marriage & alleged wife that was killed in a lion attack, two books introducing X.P. Pendergast in Relic/Reliquary, & a few other stand alone books that involved friends of X.P. such as Constance, Smithback... but this particular book is IMO the best stand alone mystery involving our favorite funeral director dressed FBI officer from N.O. He i...more
Mary Taitt
Still Life with Crows, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: In Medicine Creek, Kansas, a town where little changes, where Main Street is a two-block stretch of dusty businesses, a peculiar and grisly murder has taken place. The body mutilated and placed carefully in an elaborate tableau in the middle of the endless cornfields. Now eagle-eyed and even-tempered FBI Agent Pendergast arrives to turn upside down this small community to find the killer who must be one of them. The killings are timed...more
Alice
Confesso que já sentia falta de ler um bom policial por isso quando vi na fnac a mais recente aventura de Pendergast não resisti. Li o livro e tempo recorde e digo-vos que foi uma compra que valeu bem a pena.

Para quem não conhece o personagem principal, posso adiantar que, a par da Miss Marple de Agatha Christie, é o meu "detective" predilecto. É um muito pouco convencional agente especial do FBI que possui uma inteligência e uma intuição fora do normal e cuja imagem de marca é o seu imaculado e...more
Danna
Oh what fun to rediscover Preston and Child! I enjoy the spontaneity of limiting myself to what is available in an airport bookstore when looking for an easy, thrilling tale to read on the airplane. (Happily when I fly out of Austin I have access to BookPeople. Thank you, Austin, for having only local vendors in your airport.) Still Live with Crows is exactly the sort of thing I look for in a traveling book: rollicking good fun in a SyFy Original Film sort of way. I've read a number of Preston a...more
Patricia Kurz
This is a remarkable book. It is my first P&C and I was blown away by character, setting, pacing, and outcome. It was fully satisfying, logical, in the end touching and thought provoking. I recommend it to EVERYONE and ANYONE.

My first Preston/Child book... so forgive the obvious.

Within its genre, Still Life with Crows is 5* all the way. It's not great "literature," but it has all the earmarks of greatness. Characters are rich and believable, plot is perfectly paced, reveals are timely and a...more
Victoria
This fourth installment in the Pendergast series is enjoyable, but it really isn’t one of my favorites in the series. The plot just isn’t all that unpredictable - which is all the more surprising considering the plot of this book’s predecessor! Some new, quite likable, characters are introduced here though. I especially like Corrie - I hope she returns in other books in the series! Most disappointingly, the book includes some factual errors. To list them may inadvertently create some spoilers, b...more
Ricky
Creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy creepy cre...more
Ginia
This is a very grotesque and disturbing story. The whole time I was reading it I was asking myself, why do I like it. I kept on thinking it was like Goonies turned horror. Except the setting was landlocked Kansas and indian lore, instead of Oregon coast and pirates.

Pendergast is the biggest mystery of all though. I think he's a MIB. He acts like one sometimes. I'll continue to read more of him an hopefully he will turn out to be a regular FBI agent (who goes to his mind palace) and not an alien...more
Riley
So I actually lied when I said I read this the first time. I know, blasphemy right? But I was twelve when I discovered the Pendergast novel's and my mother said no way to SLWC. I was so mad. So mad that she wouldn't let me read it! How dare she I mean it can't be that bad right?!

I am sorry mom. For being a pain in the ass,because let me tell you something mssrs. Preston and Child, well done. Well done. I love mystery novels, but this might have been the most gruesome and possibly disturbing nov...more
Juliet Doubledee
Preston and Child have done it again, as they pick up in their fourth book of the series with FBI Special Agent A. Pendergast traveling to Kansas to solve an unusual murder, which turns into multiply seemingly ritualistic murders. The authors then proceed to weave a story that both scares and draws you in at the same time. With short intense chapters, this book is definitely a page turner.

Every so often when the real world is closing in, a thriller such as this can be refreshing as it takes the...more
Katie Marie
I really enjoyed this book. Right from the opening pages, I was hooked on all the action and couldn't put the book down. I loved how the author introduced Pendergast (thin figure, dressed in black, pale with cool skin) and throughout the book revealed tidbits of new information about Pendergast and his past. Still Life with Crows was well-written and unpredictable up until the final chapters.

Also, having lived in a small town myself, I found the townspeople's personalities to be all too accurat...more
Andi
It's really important to read these books in order, because each one has major spoilers for the ones before.

This book is incredibly good, but it's also brutal as hell -- it's hard to re-read because of some of the violence on the pages, even though it's a cracking story and a fantastic mystery with a very satisfying payoff. So, fair warning -- not for the squeamish.

With that said, it's a tense thriller and a chance to see the urbane Special Agent Pendergast out of his natural environment -- his...more
Jaime Contreras
FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast returns in his third novel. The eccentric criminal/forensic genius returns in his tailored black suit and his Rolls Royce to solve a series of gruesome ritual-like murders in the cornfields of a small Kansas town. I found this to be better than Reliquary and slightly below the caliber of The Cabinet of Curiosities. The pace picks up after page 75 and then never stops until near the end. Writers Preston & Child manage to write another thrilling crime-psychologica...more
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Bookworm Buddies: Still Life with Crows - October 10 28 25 Oct 20, 2013 06:34PM  
Ask Preston &...: Whatever Happened to Corrie? 17 122 Sep 17, 2011 09:26AM  
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Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, and grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. Following a distinguished career at a private nursery school--he was almost immediately expelled--he attended public schools and the Cambridge School of Weston. Notable events in his early life included the loss of a fingertip at the age of three to a bicycle; the loss of his two fr...more
More about Douglas Preston...
Relic (Pendergast, #1) The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast, #3) Reliquary (Pendergast, #2) Brimstone (Pendergast, #5; Diogenes, #1) The Book of the Dead (Pendergast, #7; Diogenes, #3)

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“Where are you from, Mr. Pendergast? Can't quite place the accent.”
“New Orleans.”
“What a coincidence! I went there for Mardi Gras once."
“How nice for you. I myself have never attended.”
Ludwig paused, the smile frozen on his face, wondering how to steer the conversation onto a more pertinent topic.”
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“I have found that liars in the end communicate more truth than do truth tellers.” “How’s that?” “Because truth is the safest lie.” 2 likes
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