Aloysius Pendergast, an enormously wealthy FBI special agent with a go-it-alone, 007–like brief, is presumed dead at sea after helping a Massachusetts friend. Gloom prevails at his fabulous mansion on New York City’s Riverside Drive.
Preston and Child (Crimson Shore, 2015, etc.) find Pendergast’s factotum extraordinaire, Proctor, keeping a stiff upper lip. Pendergast’s beautiful ward, Constance Greene, is doubly depressed: her mentor’s apparent death was preceded by his rejection of her declaration of love. Then Proctor believes he sees Constance being kidnapped. There are clues, and Proctor’s emergency go-bag contains a major stash of cash, so he charters jets and pursues the kidnappers to Namibia. There, the bad guys hack his SUV's computer, stranding him in the desolation of the Kalahari Desert. As this transpires, Pendergast is being held captive at sea after being rescued by a drug runner’s fishing boat. The crew decides to ransom their wily prisoner; he objects and sends the craft and crew to the bottom. Meanwhile, Proctor's protection lured away, Constance is approached by Pendergast’s murderous brother, Diogenes, also presumed dead (volcano, not ocean). Declaring his own rehabilitation and undying true love, Diogenes takes a reluctant Constance to a paradise refuge on Florida’s Halcyon Key. Returning to New York, Pendergast finds the mansion empty, gathers clues, and begins pursuit. Once again the plot further pushes probability’s limits while keeping the excitement meter pegged. Those new to the Pendergast world may stumble over references to the Gsalrig Chongg monastery (refuge of Constance’s son by Diogenes) and the machinations of Pendergast ancestor Enoch Leng, inventor of an immortality potion made from "cauda equina—the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine," which must be harvested from the newly dead. Dialogue sometimes arrives as staged pronouncements, and there’s occasional overwriting—"his features slowly twisting into a horrible grimace of mirth"—but the fast-paced novel speeds over such potholes.
Action-adventure with a macabre, sometimes-fantastical flair.