Dylan's Reviews > The Wheel of Darkness

The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston
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's review
Jul 10, 2012

it was ok

On a journey of discovery, FBI Agent Pendergast and his ward, Constance Green, enter a Tibetan monastery for enlightenment yet find the theft of a mysterious artifact that will have them traveling the globe once more to unravel a mystery. The trail leads them to the Britannia, the most luxurious ocean liner in the world about to make its maiden voyage from Britain, bound for New York. But there is a killer on board and madness so severe it could sink the ship in the middle of the freezing Atlantic.

Forget the obvious parallels with the Titanic, this is a story that offers so much yet fails to deliver. The plot is good, for the most part, and the characters are engaging (which is something the writing tandem of Preston and Child have a unique gift of achieving) but the climax of the novel falls flat on its face. In particular, the supernatural entity simply has no place in the book and it seems has been added as a convenient way of finding a simple solution to a major problem. Pendergast is a solid character once more, although he is starting to wear on the nerves a bit after so many novels. How can one man's luck hold this long? Constance Green doesn't offer much to the story either, other than the ability to aid the investigation by infiltrating the ship's cleaning staff. In fact, the ship's officers, in particular LeSeur and Kemper, add more to the novel than our two main heroes.

The writing is, as always, captivating, and the writers have absolutely no problems dragging the reader into a story and holding them there. The descriptions and insight to the characters and their lives and involvement in the proceedings never fail to enthrall the reader. These series of Pendergast novels do seem to be on a worrying trend of diminishing standards, however. Hopefully the slope isn’t too slippery, allowing the remaining books in this series to grab a foothold and not deteriorate too much.

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