Devastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple. As he stalks his wife's betrayers-a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York City and the darkest bayous of Louisiana-he is also forced to dig further into Helen's past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder.
Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined-and everything he's believed, everything he's trusted, everything he's understood . . . may be a horrific lie.
In this second of three books of Pendergast hunting down the truth of what happened to his "late" (is she or isn't she) wife, Preston and Child take a little detour from their usual Pendergast novel. Cold Vengeance is mostly Pendergast on his own, doing his thing without his usual cast of friends, not even all-purpose Proctor, though they do bring back Corrie Swanson from Still Life with Crows. (I was happy to see her again.) He goes a bit off the reservation; obsessed with finding his wife, Pendergast leaves no stone unturned and does things I, as a ravenous devourer of this series, would never expect. (He plays golf. How mundane.)
Cold Vengeance begins where Fever Dream left off and in similar fashion, leaves the reader with another cliffhanger and all sorts of dangling plot-lines to be concluded in the next book. In all honesty, it took me much longer to get through this book than other Preston and Child's novels; perhaps it's because I knew that there would be no real resolution? In any case, seeing Pendergast go off on his own, actively telling D'Agosta and Corrie to essentially butt out was weird if not understandable, even for him. Also, some of the details bothered me, like this one from page 307-308, where he is trying to flush out bad guys in a situation where stealth is key:
Pendergast crept along the slanting wall until he was just below the level of the toe rail, where sliding glass doors opened from the sky lounge to the sky deck.
He reached into his pocket, took out a coin, and tossed it so that it clanked against the glass doors.
My main thought when I read this passage was, You mean to tell me that Pendergast has been sneaking around a boat like Spider-man with loose change in his pockets? The man is good but not that good. Perhaps he only had the one coin? Maybe he stuck a single quarter into his pocket for just such an occasion? Not impossible for Pendergast but certainly improbable.
Overall though, I liked what happened in this book. It moved somewhat slowly in places, with disposable characters who didn't fit in the puzzle that is the main plot, but by the end, I was riveted. As is usually the case, I want the next book NOW, but at this time, I can't find any info concerning publication or even a title. Preston and Child's next book, Gideon's Corpse, will be out January 10, 2012.
A Walrus Darkly
The Mystery Reader
The Speed of Write
Preston & Child website