THE OBSIDIAN CHAMBER by Douglas Preston

THE OBSIDIAN CHAMBER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

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.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4555-3691-7
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2016




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Kirkus Interview
Douglas Preston
January 2, 2017

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God—but then committed suicide without revealing its location. Three quarters of a century later, bestseller Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story is his account of the expedition. “A story that moves from thrilling to sobering, fascinating to downright scary—trademark Preston, in other words, and another winner,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >

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