Mihir's Reviews > Cold Vengeance

Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston
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's review
Nov 21, 11

Original review over at Fantasy Book Critic

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Cold Vengeance is the second book in the Helen Pendergast trilogy that began with Fever Dream last year. I very much enjoyed the new twist envisioned by the authors as Pendergast begins to re-examine his past and find out about his wife. This move was a brilliant one by the authors and Fever Dream rekindled many a jaded fan back into Pendergast’s throes.

This book begins almost immediately after the events of the last book. Pendergast has gone hunting with his brother-in-law Judson Esterhazy, things soon go awry and Pendergast is forced to go underground perhaps a second time in his life (the first time was around the events of the Diogenes trilogy). For things are definitely what they seem and this time around even the ever-doughty Vincent D’Agosta can’t be of much help. Things soon take a turn for the unexpected as Corrie Swanson begins her investigation into Pendergast’s absence. Aiding her in cause is Vincent D’Agosta who is slowly recovering from the events of the previous title. On a separate track Ned Betterton is a investigative reporter who fills in the void left by Bill Smithback in Preston-Child world and lastly there is the continuation of Constance’s storyline from the events of the previous few books and we get a viewpoint from Dr. John Felder which helps the reader in knowing more of what is developing.

Thus with such a convoluted storyline, the authors plunge the readers into a morass of storylines wherein nothing is as it seems and Pendergast is even more bewildered than he was shown in the previous volume. The basic storyline is about Helen Pendergast, the long-thought-to-be dead wife of agent Pendergast, however things and plots have been unearthed which make it seem that Helen was murdered and did not die in a hunting accident. This book not only validates that theory but pushes forward a new one which will further shock Pendergast as well as the readers.

The authors have to be congratulated for not only twisting the reader’s perceptions but also backing it up with a tremendous story which does not stop shocking the reader while maintaining its pace and potential. This story’s pace is one which does not allow any time for the reader to pause and collect their thoughts as it carries the reader forward through out. The re-appearance of fan-favorite characters of Corrie Swanson & Vincent D’Agosta further helps in engaging the reader as Pendergast is not often present on the scene of action. It’s very difficult to discuss the details of the plot as even the smallest points are spoiler-ish and therefore its best if the readers themselves come across these points in their reading journey. Among the book’s finer facets are the side plots, which do not detract any attention from the main plot and keep the readers, further engrossed in trying to figure out how it will all end?

The most surprising thing of the book is how assured the authors seem to be in an environment wherein their comfort level is at its zenith, earlier this year the same duo had released Gideon’s Sword and its very hard to believe that both the books were written by the same people in almost an overlapping time period. The difference between both books is startling in terms of plot, characterization and plot twists and is unfathomable. Another remarkable aspect of this book is that even though this is the middle book of the trilogy, it does not show any such signs. It rushes towards the climax while keeping the reader guessing and goes on to deliver not one but two explosive revelations which will have massive repercussions in Pendergast’s world.

This book does not get any better than the pervious excellent thrillers like Reliquary, Cabinet of Curiosities, Riptide, etc. from these virtuoso masters. Not only will it invigorate the series but will go on to gain more fans for the series as many readers who haven’t read the previous series titles can readily start reading the books from Fever Dream and thus will still be enchanted by the world and the characters created by Messrs. Preston & Child.

CONCLUSION: An excellent thriller, "The Dark Knight" to its predecessor and an out-and-out page-turner. Preston & Child have written a fiendishly clever book and inserted enough surprises in it to flummox the most veteran readers and with an ending even more devious than all their previous ones; next year cannot come soon enough for the final book and the resolution to the mystery of Helen Pendergast.
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message 1: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Davis Oh, thank you so much for mentioning the disappointment that many felt with Gideon's Sword! As a fan of Preston and Child (I even read and very much enjoyed - um, was enthralled by? enjoyed isn't a good word for a book about a sick murderer - Monster of Venice), I was so disappointed by GS that I thought I might never pay for one of their collaborations again.

Maybe I'll give them one more try with this Cold Vengeance.

Mihir Hi Shawn

GS was a bit dissapointing especially since we have come to expect such high standards from DPLC. If you are a fan of their earlier titles then I would heartily recommend that you read CV as it is definitely one of their best books in terms of revelations, action & Pendergast plots.

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