Months after it came out, I have finally read this latest installment of the Pendergast saga. Aloysius Pendergast has been one of my favorite literary characters for a while now. He's the Sherlock Holmes of our time; D'Agosta actually calls him on that while they work this case.
First off, I am so so so sad that they killed William Smithback. Smithback has been around since Relic, the first book Preston & Child wrote together and the first Pendergast book. It was turned into a pretty crappy movie but the book rocked. He was one of my favorite characters in these books; he had integrity and was funny and I was happy for him and Nora Kelly, his future widow. I'm still not sure why I was so attached to Bill and I was really ticked after I finished Cemetery Dance. I think I just get offended when good characters are killed for no good reason. (See Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, book seven especially.)
This was not my favorite Pendergast novel. It certainly isn't their best work. They killed Bill; they left Constance dangling in the wind until a little bite near the end; the bad guy was a douche (no surprise there); it just felt like something was missing to me even though Pendergast did his mysterious shtick and D'Agosta followed him around like Watson did with Holmes. I also thought the biggest clue that started the investigation was kinda weak - Bill Smithback, big bad writer for the New York Times, was writing a series of articles about animal killings in Manhattan? And killing him on his first wedding anniversary? That was cold.
I was also disappointed that the writers backed off of Pendergast's personal life. After the Diogenes trilogy, I felt like Preston & Child had become comfortable with letting us into the mystery of Pendergast and they did, a teeny-tiny bit. I wanna know what happened with the chick from Italy and what's up with Constance? Nada. We got to see his apartment in the Dakota (yawn) and him talking to Wren, the little old guy that lives/works beneath the NY Public Library. Been there, done that. Please, please don't make us wait two more years for the next one, okay?