Wikipedia tells me that between them, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have published 38 novels since 1995. (26 together, 5 and 7 apart, respectively.) And I like them. They’re entertaining, easy to read, and contain one unforgettable character: Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, a modern-day Sherlock Holmes with an inexhaustible supply of arcane knowledge and a Batman-like ability to escape from every deadly threat.
But putting out more than one book a year has its drawbacks. The publisher’s deadline is looming and you have to keep the pages coming – the three volumes in this trilogy contain close to 500 each – and that can lead to redundant text because there isn’t time to sit, think… and cut what isn’t needed. So there were several passages in all three that I skimmed; not because they were badly written – none of them are – but because I could see what was coming long before I got there.
Dance of Death is the best of the trilogy, with a ridiculously complex robbery scheme that only God could pull off without a hitch, but which is also great fun. The first, Brimstone, has a bloviating villain who grows rapidly tiresome. The Book of the Dead puts Pendergast in prison (great reading how he survives) but gives too much time to his Mad Evil Genius Mastermind of a brother.
My favourite Pendergast story remains Still Life With Crows. But that could change because there are another 11 of his adventures I haven’t read. A prospect that makes me very happy.