Preposterous fun

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have co-written a number of books about FBI agent Aloysius Prendergast. I have read a couple of them and enjoyed them so I picked up Fever Dream when I saw it. I have a certain number of reservations about this story and the book having now read it.

Prendergast’s wife died some years ago when both of them were big game hunting in Africa and she was attacked and mauled by a lion. The book does mention in passing that the hunting is only of animals which need to be culled but I found the obvious delight of the authors in describing stalking and killing large predators quite uncomfortable – it just isn’t my thing. It’s important for the story, however, as those that set up the killing are pitted against Prendergast – the ones who are most ruthless will survive.

Having discovered some years after the event that his wife must have been murdered Prendergast enlists the help of a friend and sets out to discover who has done it and why. Their first clue is her admiration for a famous painter of birds but they then follow other clues to discover a buried picture, find a strange episode of madness and eventually to be pursued in a swamp filled with alligators. The action is fast paced and frequent. One clue leads easily to another and Prendergast is able to discover things which have been hidden from others. We are also given brief glimpses into the minds of some of those opposing Prendergast and we realise that at least one is someone close to him who he trusts – this adds tension for the reader.

This is all enjoyably preposterous. Prendergast is independently wealthy and drives around in a Rolls Royce which must make him quite conspicuous in America. He is amazingly good at deduction and has the good fortune that all his guesses turn out to be correct. He is frequently in danger but he always escapes although others are wounded or killed. He appears to be able to run an investigation with one friend and very little paperwork.

Where the book then fell down for me was that it finished on a cliffhanger and with nothing resolved. This was not the case for other books I read in this series but apparently this whole story is presented over three novels. I definitely think that where an author is going to do this they should warn the reader in advance so they can decide whether or not to invest the time. I have a lingering interest in the resolution to this mystery but it’s not great enough for me to look for the sequel to this story.

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