Two Graves by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
For twelve years, he believed she died in an accident. Then, he was told she’d been murdered. Now, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast discovers that his beloved wife Helen is alive. But their reunion is cut short when Helen is brazenly abducted before his eyes. And Pendergast is forced to embark on a furious cross-country chase to rescue her.
But all this turns out to be mere prologue to a far larger plot: one that unleashes a chillingly-almost supernaturally-adept serial killer on New York City. And Helen has one more surprise in store for Pendergast: a piece of their shared past that makes him the one man most suited to hunting down the killer.
His pursuit of the murderer will take Pendergast deep into the trackless forests of South America, to a hidden place where the evil that has blighted both his and Helen’s lives lies in wait . . . a place where he will learn all too well the truth of the ancient proverb:
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
Preston and Child’s high-adrenaline 12th thriller featuring maverick FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast wraps up the trilogy that began with 2010’s Fever Dream and continued with 2011’s Cold Vengeance with a bang. Just as Pendergast is reunited one evening in Manhattan’s Central Park with his beloved wife, Helen, who he thought died 12 years earlier, Helen falls victim to a gang of well-organized kidnappers. Despite Pendergast’s impressive combination of brains and brawn as well as network of helpers, his efforts to rescue Helen don’t play out as he anticipated. Meanwhile, a serial murderer dubbed the Hotel Killer has been targeting guests of Manhattan hotels, mutilating his victims and leaving behind a piece of his own body (e.g., a finger, an ear lobe) to taunt the NYPD. Given the growing cast of characters and their complex backstories, those already familiar with the bestselling authors’ fictional world will most enjoy this intelligent suspense novel.
In this conclusion to the authors’ Helen trilogy (Fever Dream; Cold Vengeance), Special Agent Pendergast finally discovers what happened to his wife, Helen, who was supposedly mauled by a lion while game hunting in Africa 15 years ago but who may have been kidnapped and forced to collaborate in her own death. Having lost the kidnappers’ trail, Pendergast is asked to investigate a string of mysterious hotel fires in Manhattan, and the clues lead him to South America and the kidnappers. VERDICT Across these three titles, Preston and Child weave a dense and, oftentimes, boring and unimpressive plotline running over 1200 pages. With the final volume, eager fans will at last learn what really happened to Helen—unfortunately after plodding through a lot of insignificant and inconsequential details. Regardless, order multiples.
Douglas Preston was born in 1956 in Cambridge, MA, was raised in nearby Wellesley (where, by his own admission, he and his brothers were the scourge of the neighborhood!), and graduated from Pomona College in California with a degree in English literature.
Preston’s first job was as a writer for the American Museum of Natural History in New York — an eight year stint that led to the publication of his first book, Dinosaurs in the Attic and introduced him to his future writing partner, Lincoln Child, then working as an editor at St. Martin’s Press. The two men bonded, as they worked closely together on the book. As the project neared completion, Preston treated Child to a private midnight tour of the museum, an excursion that proved fateful. As Preston tells it, “…in the darkened Hall of Late Dinosaurs, under a looming T. Rex, Child turned to [me] and said: ‘This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!'” Their first collaborative effort, Relic, would not be published until 1995, by which time Preston had picked up stakes and moved to Santa Fe to pursue a full-time writing career.
In addition to writing novels (The Codex, Tyrannosaur Canyon) and nonfiction books on the American Southwest (Cities of Gold, Ribbons of Time), Preston has collaborated with Lincoln Child on several post-Relic thrillers. While not strictly a series, the books share characters and events, and the stories all take place in the same universe. The authors refer to this phenomenon as “The Preston-Child Pangea.”
Preston divides his time between New Mexico and Maine, while Child lives in New Jersey — a situation that necessitates a lot of long-distance communication. But their partnership (facilitated by phone, fax, and email) is remarkably productive and thoroughly egalitarian: They shape their plots through a series of discussions; Child sends an outline of a set of chapters; Preston writes the first draft of those chapters, which is subsequently rewritten by Child; and in this way the novel is edited back and forth until both authors are happy. They attribute the relatively seamless surface of their books to the fact that “[a]ll four hands have found their way into practically every sentence, at one time or another.”
To learn more about Preston and Child, please visit their website.
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