An outrageously entertaining thriller from these accomplished co-authors (Still Life With Crows, 2003, etc.).
Satanic murders are the bill of fare here. Defrocked NYC policeman and sometime mystery novelist Vincent D’Agosta (now on the Southampton force) re-teams with superrich polymath FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast to investigate the suspicious death of much-hated art critic Jeremy Grove, whose burned corpse shows signs of demonic maltreatment. After the two learn that the deceased’s recent dinner guests all had reasons to off him, Pendergast trades repartee with adipose Italian aristocrat Count Fosco (blithely lifted from Wilkie Collins’s classic The Woman in White), D’Agosta survives a professional hit, and another similar murder brings Homicide Captain Laura Hayward into the mix (and D’Agosta’s amorous purview). Wealthy industrialist Locke Bullard, who had known connections to both victims, angrily resists interrogation—and may be helping supply China with un-interceptible long-range missiles. The discovery of further connections sends Pendergast and D’Agosta to Italy, where several involved persons living and dead met for nefarious purposes 30 years earlier. Meanwhile, in a thoroughly uninteresting subplot, convicted murderer and born-again preacher Wayne Buck turns the aforementioned rumors of demonic violence to his advantage, assembling an “army” of believers with whose excesses the beleaguered NYPD must also deal. No matter: Preston and Child have mastered the sure-fire technique of quickly shifting the scene and periodically introducing intriguing new characters. And when Pendergast and D’Agosta reach the ancient “Castello” where their villain resides and all answers lie, a protracted (though quite gripping) climax ingeniously links Chinese WMDs with a priceless Stradivarius violin and the duplicitous employment of an ancient grimoire. A muted ending yields to a smashing Epilogue, one that sets the stage for a further continuation of this exhilarating series.
As good as the genre gets. Don’t miss it.