Friday, February 5, 2010

Cemetery Dance - Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston (audio)


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

16 comments:

Melody said...

This sounds like a compelling read, but then I'm not sure if I'd want to read it since it's part of a series. I hate to jump into the middle of a series, not knowing some of the main characters beforehand.

DesLily said...

I wish I could afford "audio" books (no library close by and I don't drive).. I'm betting Rene's voice did a lot for the book! I met him once, very nice man..and of course very talented!

Julie P. said...

Wasn't he the butler on Benson back eons ago? I'm glad you enjoyed this audio book. I still have never "read" one.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have seen this around and was reluctant to pick it up, but from your review it sounds pretty good!

bermudaonion said...

As I started listening to this one, I thought, "oh no, zombies - this isn't for me," but ended up being surprised at just how much I enjoyed the book. Glad to see you did too.

Beth F said...

I've been wanting to read this series -- but I'll start at book 1.

caite said...

I never heard of this series...sometimes I fell like I live under a rock...but yes, I would have to start at the beginning of the series too.
off to find out what that is...Oh Library Thing, my dear Library Thing!

Alyce said...

I have seen this one before, but wasn't sure what it was about. I'm glad you found something you liked!

Irishcoda said...

I'd not heard of this Pendergast book--is it newer? My hubby's about to start on "Wheel of Darkness", just finished the trilogy about Pendergast and his evil brother Diogenes

Jenners said...

I think I got one of the books from these guys ("The Relic" I think ... it was also a movie) but I never read it.

And I'm pretty sure Rene A. was on Benson. I'm going to go look that up first. Yes ... he was. Why do I even know that??????????????? He was the persnickety guy.

Kaye said...

Are you thrilled now that we can add pages to the top of blogger like tabs but without messing around with the dreaded HTML?

Carrie K. said...

This series is one of my dad's all-time favorites, but I've yet to read one. May have to do that soon!

Alice Teh said...

Oooh I need to try these authors one day. I keep seeing Lincoln Child's books in the bookstores. Very tempted. The thing is I'm buying books faster than I can read them, resulting in the slowing down of my reading. This is not good... But I like the sound of this title!

Ti said...

I love this writing duo but I thought this book was not one of their bests. I read it and at the time thought it would make a better audio book than hard copy book. I just felt it was way over the top. Entertaining though!

Anna said...

Now this one sounds really good!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Zibilee said...

Heehee, the voice that read this book to you used to be a regular on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. He was my favorite character, a half human half liquid hybrid man. I think he has a wonderful voice as well. Oh, and he was also Clayton on Benson, the t.v. show from the 80's! I like the few Preston/Childs books that I have read, but I have not come across this one yet. Good to know that they are still able to come up with some compelling plots! Great review. Are you thinking of going back to read the others?