Monday, November 24, 2008

Brimstone - Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

2004; 726 pages. Genre : Mystery-Thriller. Overall Rating : B.
A charred body is found in a house on Long Island. It appears to be a case of SHC (Spontaneous Human Combustion). None of the surroundings are burnt - just the victim, but he appears to have been fried from the inside out. Oh, and there's the small matter of a cloven hoof branded into the floorboard.
After a second murder under similar circumstances, FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast and detective Vincent D'Agosta work to find a connection and a motive, and to see whether this is the work of natural or supernatural forces.
What's To Like...
Preston & Child have the thriller motif down pat; this is another good effort by them. There's lots of action, no slow spots, a bunch of threads to follow, and a couple red herrings to keep you on your toes.
Pendergast and D'Agosta are a knock-off of Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson. Indeed, Brimstone reminds me of The Hound of The Baskervilles, with maybe a dash of "Wild Wild West" thrown in.
What's meh...
At 720 pages, this could've been downsized a bit. And the characters seem a bit two-dimensional, although maybe that's just because I read this immediately after The Grapes Of Wrath. Finally, there was one short burst of preachiness in it - aimed at the Fundamentalists. And while I pretty much agree with the sermonette, it nevertheless seemed out-of-place and uncalled for in a mystery novel.
Bottom Line...
Brimstone is the fifth book in Preston & Child's Pendergast series. I've read #1, #5, and #8. Although they follow the same formula, there is still enough variance in the plots to where they don't become stale. And despite being the first book in a "trilogy within a series", this is a stand-alone story. I like that. It's much less aggravating than some series, such as Robert Jordan's The Dragon Reborn, where you work your way through a thousand pages, only to discover that nothing gets resolved. We'll give Brimstone a solid "B", and recommend it especially to Arthur Conan Doyle fans.


Amber said...

Now see, I'm way too obsessive-compulsive to read series books out of sequence.

There's always that saying that the book was better than the movie, but this review makes me wonder, how do thriller/crime novels compare to all the crime dramas on television right now (CSI, Law and Order, etc.)?

Do people that like reading thriller/crime novels necessarily also enjoy crime drama television?

I like the crime dramas on television, but in keeping with my snootiness toward genre fiction, I haven't read any thrillers or mysteries lately.

hamilcar barca said...

CSI is probably more technical than Brimstone. IMO, a closer match would be Cold Case, where (in most cases), the key clue is some little off-hand comment or previously overlooked trinket.

if you took Cold Case, then threw the supernatural into some, but not all of the episodes, you'd be close to the Pendergast series.

and yes, being OCD too, i'd normally read these in order. but once i read book #8 (and before i realized it was a series), the OCD hold was broken. :-)