The focus of my blog is to review book series and not individual novels. But writers are going to continue writing novels within a series even after I have done my review, so I plan on reviewing the individual novels as they come into circulation. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have recently added book #18, Verses for the Dead, to the Pendergast series.
One thing that makes a Pendergast novel special is that the crimes that this FBI agent investigates are far from normal. Whether it be dealing with some beast that kills employees at the New York Museum of Natural History in Relic, or uncovering a serial killer who happens to be Pendergast’s great-grand uncle who had discovered the elixir of life and managed to live to be over 100 years old in the Cabinet of Curiosities, or dealing with the destructive trail left by his psychopathic brother Diogenes, a Pendergast novel is never normal. There is always a certain element of mysticism, or touch of science fiction, or a better way to phrase it – out worldly.
Then there is Verses for the Dead. The story begins with what one would expect from a Pendergast novel, women are being killed in Miami with their hearts being removed and later placed on the grave of other women whose cause of death was suicide. The killer always leaves a note that quotes classic literature and ends it with the moniker ‘Mister Brokenhearts’. With the exception of working with Vincent D’Agosta, Pendergast normally works alone, but on this particular investigation he is assigned a partner. The reason for this is that FBI assistant director Walter Pickett wants to get rid of Pendergast because he is a rogue agent. Even though Pendergast has a reputation of solving the crime, the perpetrators of the crime seem to always turn up dead, something that doesn’t sit well with Pickett. So Pickett finds a partner for Pendergast that can be an informant and hopefully find information that would give reason for Pickett to dismiss Pendergast. Pendergast’s new partner is A.B. Coldmoon and even though they begin their relationship quite awkwardly, they both eventually develop a mutual respect for each other much to the chagrin of Pickett. Eventually, together they solve the mystery. There is a bit of a twist to the mystery but overall it is a relatively normal mystery. No ghosts, no bizarre creatures, no relative that has come back from the dead. Just a good ole fashion mystery which normally I would be thrilled, but this is a Pendergast novel. So I was a little disappointed.
I still highly recommend reading Verses for the Dead as the development in the relationship between Pendergast and Coldman is definitely worth the read. For the most part, this could be read as a standalone novel. For die-hard Pendergast fans, a new character is introduced that is a bit of a blast from the past which won’t mean much if one hasn’t read the earlier novels.
To learn more about the series check out the Pendergast series.