Mel's Reviews > Fever Dream

Fever Dream by Douglas Preston
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's review
Sep 12, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

Ah, the Pendergast series...honestly, once you start this series, you simply cannot stop reading them. These are finish-in-a-day books for me, and that means going without sleep. Some I have liked more than others; although in retrospect I liked this one less than some of the others (#9 is a standout), this still gave us plenty to work with. I loved all the parts about his late wife, Helen, and I'm itching to read the sequel once it comes out in paperback.

Essentially, these are archaeological/historical/traveler type mysteries, for all that they are nominally police procedural. And I mean nominally. Special Agent Pendergast and his longtime friend and sometimes partner NYPD detective Vincent D'Agosta, plus Vincent's lady friend NYPD Captain Laura Hayward, solve mysteries. There really isn't any police-type work here; it's much more private eye style and a LOT of Indiana Jones-style historical clues and knowledge.

One of the things I love about this series is that it doesn't pull punches. There are supernatural things in it, and they aren't all debunked, as it were. And frankly, main characters bite the big one sometimes. The entirety of Cemetery Dance (#9), I practically mourned my way through after one of my favorite characters dies in the opening scene. I honestly couldn't believe it. It feels a little now like Preston and Child were closing a chapter on that part of the series, as William Smithback, Nora Kelly, and Margo Green were kinda the main supporting cast for the earlier part of the series. Now that they are written out, the authors can move on with D'Agosta and Hayward, and of course, Pendergast. And if you jump into the middle of the series, there is the three-book arc that runs with Diogenes, Pendergast's supremely evil brother...

But that is all before this book. Here, we are dealing with a mystery of Audubon's lost painting, a strange plague, and what REALLY happened to Pendergast's beloved wife, Helen. This book kicks off a new arc; although there is not a cliffhanger, per se, it's clear the next book, Cold Vengeance, continues with some loose threads here. Pendergast has to confront a villain that got away, and ask more questions about Helen that weren't completely answered.

The background with Audubon is very interesting. The main downside of the book, and why I gave it only four stars, is that it dragged just a hair time to time. Pendergast and D'Agosta kept having to split up and go investigate in different directions; this led to passages with them on the road or them on the phone. It wasn't as action-packed as the others and spent a lot of time setting up background. Still, it was satisfying and heart wrenching in spots, and it gave a good historical backdrop.

If you wish to read this series, you can honestly start at the beginning of any arc and jump right in. My favorite spot was with Brimstone, which is #5 and starts off the Diogenes arc. Jump earlier to the beginning (Relic) to get the intro to D'Agosta, but it's not necessary. Another good spot is Cabinet of Curiosities, which is #3. I feel the series really started here, ignoring Relic and Reliquary, and started the great historical feel.

If you like adventure, a dash of horror, good clean detective work, and nice historical fact, this is definitely the series for you!
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