Brazenly convoluted, swift-going last title in the Pendergast trilogy (after Dance of Death, 2005) features FBI special agent Aloysius Pendergast in murderous rivalry with his brother Diogenes.
The authors keep numerous pots boiling over at once: Agent Pendergast is locked away in solitary confinement at the escape-proof Herkmoor Federal Correctional Facility in upstate New York, apparently framed for serial murders, at the time that a mysterious package containing ground diamonds is dumped at the beleaguered New York Museum of Natural History. Caught trying to hide the fact that the diamond dust is what is left of the museum’s priceless diamond collection stolen some time before, the museum powers-that-be decide to bring up an Egyptian tomb buried in its cellars as a public-relations stunt. Archaeologist Nora Kelly (whose husband, New York Times reporter William Smithback Jr., broke the diamond-grit story) is assigned to reassemble the Tomb of Senef and plan the sound-and-light show that will bedazzle big-name guests at the official opening. A suave Egyptologist from the British Museum, Adrian Wicherly, aids Kelly and discovers that the tomb’s hieroglyphics contain a curse of insanity on whoever defiles it. In fact, a series of visitors to the tomb do fall prey to madness and murder, including Dr. Wicherly, as plans for the official opening proceed ominously. Meanwhile, martial-arts master Pendergast is sprung from torture and gang mayhem in a jail rescue by fellow FBI agent Vinnie D’Agosta, and others convinced of his innocence, and put on the trail of Diogenes, who still has not recovered from emotional damage suffered during childhood. Diogenes blames his older brother for his early trauma and manipulates to his purposes the family’s naïve young ward, Constance Greene, whose own Dickensian tale figured into the authors’ previous novels. With Diogenes stalking Constance in Italy, and the New York mayor and his retinue locked in the tomb, this promises to be a really good show.
Fast, punchy and relentlessly action-packed.