Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central, Nov. 2013) Note: No spoilers for this book, but if you haven’t caught up with the series, you may want to skip the review and suffice it to say that Two Graves is a great read!)–Oh Pendergast, why must you be so darn cranky? Well, it may be because his wife, Helen, who he thought he lost in a lion attack years ago(yes, a lion attack), is actually alive! That’s not what’s making him cranky however, although it is a huge shocker. When they finally try to reunite, she’s abducted, and Pendergast vows to get her back. His pursuit of Helen and her abductors will lead him into the Mexican desert, and a shocking confrontation.
Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Manhattan, targeting innocent people in their hotel rooms and murdering them in particularly gruesome fashion. Strangely, the killer seems to know his victims’ every move, things he couldn’t possibly predict. Vincent D’Agosta is on the case, and when he discovers the killer may have a connection to Pendergast, he’s floored and conflicted as to how to proceed. After all, Pendergast is one of his closest, and dearest friends, and if D’Agosta refuses to disclose details that are important to the investigation, it could mean his job. He’s finally at a good place with Laura Hayward, and he’d be devastated if anything threatened that well-earned peace.
At the same time, Corrie Swanson, Pendergast’s protégé is pursued by what she thinks are Nazi extremists, and she approaches Pendergast for help and sanctuary, but he’s in a bad place and can’t offer consolation, so she goes the only place that she might be safe: her father’s house. She hasn’t seen her father since she was little and he left, and stumbles upon some information about her father, concerning allegations of theft, that may not be true. She’s determined to get to the bottom of it and launches her own covert investigation.
If that’s not enough for you, Constance Green’s doctor , John Felder, wants to get to the bottom of Constance’s claim that she’s more than 100 years old, and heads to Connecticut to gain access to some papers that might shed light on the matter, but getting past an eccentric old woman and her creepy bodyguard might be more than he bargained for.
The mystery of Helen’s past will lead Pendergast into the jungles of Brazil, to a tiny island where a diabolical experiment has been carried out for years, and is tied intimately to both Pendergast and Helen. What Pendergast finds is shocking, and he’ll do anything to put a stop to it. Much to D’Agosta’s chagrin, Pendergast doesn’t want his help, and he’s forced to worry about his friend, even as he investigates the murders in Manhattan.
So there you have it! In Two Graves, Preston & Child have no less than four pretty involved storylines going at once, and they manage to tie everything together effortlessly. Pendergast is one of my favorite literary creations, and I can forgive him if he acts like an insufferable jerk sometimes. The man has his reasons, and instead of telling people that he doesn’t want help because he cares about them and doesn’t want them hurt, he tends to just push them away, like he does here with Corrie and D’Agosta. Fans of the Pendergast series, in which Two Graves is the 12th, will find much to love here, and the authors’ talent for making the outlandish not only palatable, but believable, is on fine display. These books are pure fun and are chock full of meticulous research and just plain excellent writing. The devil is indeed in the details. I wouldn’t suggest starting with this book, if you’re new to the series however, since it completes Helen’s story arc and also wraps up some loose ends for Constance and Corrie. I’ve purposely left out some HUGE surprises which will certainly have bearing on the future of our favorite FBI agent, but if I told you, then it would completely ruin the fun! I zipped through this one, even though it weighs in at 480 pages, and it even kept me up late a few nights. Two Graves is a wonderful addition to a superb thriller series, and you’ll want to move right on to White Fire, the next book in the series!