Friday, February 5, 2010
As you read yesterday in my review of "Got the Look" I've been feeling a little persnickety about crime thrillers. At this point, it takes a serious departure from the standard crime thriller template to make the novel memorable. Usually, this means significant character development of interesting personalities, and complex plots. Sick and twisted bad guys just don't cut it anymore. I've read about every possible deviance ad nauseum, and each author has "one-upped" each other to the point where we are all immune to it. Chasing serial murderers don't cut it either. As I sit here typing, I realize I sound alot like a whiny, spoiled bibliophile version of Veruca Salt demanding MORE.
Enter Cemetery Dance. I won this audio in a giveaway at Frances' blog Nonsuch Book. The audio was included in a box full of Asian-themed novels, so I'm not sure if this was a packing error, or a little bonus. I know nothing about the story, but ten minutes into it, I know this is a part of a series. *sigh* I quickly found out that indeed, these two authors have collaborated on a number of books, some of them a series featuring an FBI Agent Pendergast, and other supporting characters. Cemetery Dance is about halfway through the series. OK, well we will see if the book can stand on its own.
The story opens to a couple celebrating their first wedding anniversary. Nora Kelly (a recurring character) and her journalist husband finish their meal, and Nora dashes out to purchase a desert for the occasion. While she is gone, her husband is brutally murdered by a deranged-acting neighbor. Trouble is, the neighbor drowned two weeks prior. Huh.
NYC homicide detective Vincent D'Agosta (another repeat character) is assigned to the murder. D'Agosta is enraged at the crime, as the journalist was a friend. FBI Agent Pendergast offers some assistance, and the two begin to unravel and very bizarre series of clues that leads directly to a cult that sacrifices young animals and is some off-beaten branch of voodoo. Before they know it, they are knee-deep in murderous zombies, a vindictive but wealthy techno-geek, over-ambitious animal rights activists, and the occult.
I was very entertained by this book, which stands out ever so slightly from the rest, for several reasons. First, there were parts of the plot that were pretty scary. I had no idea what the heck was going on, especially since the writers are new to me...was this a paranormal book? Is all of this going to be explainable? It kept me guessing right to the end. I would wager a guess that the audio, with all of the noises involved, would be scarier than the written word. The conclusion did seem slightly hokey, but I can forgive it this sin, for all of its other originality.
Second, the character of Pendergast was fascinating; an enigma. He is clever, doesn't always play by the rules, a little eccentric, and dabbles in some curious hobbies. I wouldn't mind hanging with him a little more.
Third, the narrator was brilliant. The story is read by a gentleman by the name of Rene Auberjonois, who has quite the resume of TV and Broadway credentials, including a couple of Emmy nominations. He has read for other Child/Preston books. I intend to hunt them down.
So with my persnickety attitude in mind, everything I have said here should be considered a huge complement. Veruca has been sated...for the moment.
4 out of 5 stars