THE BOOK OF THE DEAD by Douglas Preston

THE BOOK OF THE DEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

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.

Pub Date: June 6th, 2006
ISBN: 0-446-57698-0
Page count: 480pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2006




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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