Tag Archives: crime/thrillers

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : The Lost Island

The Lost Island by Douglas Preston

The Lost Island by Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author), Lincoln Child
Amy Caudill‘s review

 When Gideon is approached by Glinn to steal a page from a famous Illuminated manuscript, on display in New York and in broad daylight from inside an incredibly secure exhibition, he has to think twice before accepting the challenge.  What clinches it for him is when Glinn hints that a secret map with the key to a “miracle cure” is hidden underneath the text.  A mysterious benefactor wants to find and distribute the cure that may possibly save Gideon’s life, as well as heal Glinn’s injuries.

Gideon finds himself summarily teamed with an inhospitable partner and recreating the voyage of Odysseus on the trail of a lost tropical island.  While on the course of this mission, they will encounter the last remnant of a civilization straight out of myth, and face a heartbreaking ethical dilemma.

The authors skillfully tie this latest book into their prior novel The Ice Limit, which introduces Eli Glinn and Effective Engineering Solutions; the mission where Glinn met his first real career failure and received his crippling injuries.  Glinn’s obsession and guilt over repairing the damage done on that mission to himself and others and undoing its consequences have overwhelmed his judgement.  His entire team, not just Gideon and Amiko, as well as the previously lost island come into great risk from his actions and lack of self-control.

Although Glinn’s motives are partially altruistic, as the secret client, a fact not revealed till near the end, his goal to fix his biggest mistake ends up causing another catastrophe.  He learns the hard way, and many pay the price for his hubris, that he is not fallible, and his methodology for preventing failure by mapping out all possible failures cannot conceivable account for every variable. 

Glinn is forced to admit he needs Gideon’s impulsive, instinctive methods to counter and balance his own methods.  Only his admission of his limitations gains Gideon’s continued assistance on the next mission.  While the “cure” seems to be helping Glinn, Gideon does not appear to be so lucky, so the only real thing he has left to live for is the chance to do so good before he dies.

This story, a definite departure from previous books in the series as it takes several fantastical turns, is nevertheless an excellent thrilling adventure.  Gideon’s character continues to grow as he wrestles with his conscience and awareness of his mortality.  It is nice to see other characters are capable of growth and change as well.

I award this book four point five stars for originality and amazing action, as well as depth of character and plots that tie into the authors’ greater universe.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series, but I may have to reread the original The Ice Limit book to refresh my memory before I go forward.  Still, this book and the Gideon Crew series are must-reads for fans of thrillers and mysteries, as well as fans of modern day treasure hunting stories.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Gideon’s Sword

Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston

Gideon’s Sword (Gideon’s Crew #1) by Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author), Lincoln Child
Amy Caudill‘s review

I’ve long been a fan of the writing partners Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  Their Pendergast series is among my favorites.  The duo has also written another series that is only peripherally linked to that series by virtue of a supporting character that appears in both series, Eli Glinn.

Since I have (for now) finished reading the one series, I decided to turn my attention to the other.  Gideon Crew is a maverick in his early thirties who has had a difficult life, beginning with the trauma of watching his father gunned down in front of him when he was twelve for alleged treason.

A few years later, Gideon’s mother, on her deathbed, tells Gideon that his father was framed and she expects him to avenge his father’s death.  She tells Gideon to take his time; to learn; to grow; to study so that he can make those responsible for destroying their family pay. 

Gideon takes her words to heart, and the next few years see him making a career for himself as both an engineer and a jewel thief, honing skills necessary to take down a retired army officer who still has numerous contacts in the government.  This actually comprises only the first part of the book, which then takes an interesting turn.

Apparently the head of Effective Engineering Solutions, Inc., a firm specializing in “fixing” issues for multiple governments and interest groups headed by Eli Glinn, was impressed by Gideon’s takedown and want to recruit him.  They need him to help save the world as we know it; or at least intercept a Chinese scientist who may or may not be defecting and who may or may not have the details of a weapon of mass destruction with him.  Oh, and he arrives in the States in only a few hours. 

Naturally the mission is compromised by a Chinese assassin, Nodding Crane, who also is after the scientist.  Also, Eli Glinn delivers the news that Gideon Crew has only one year left to live.  Will he rise to the challenge by going undercover against Chinese and American agents, learn the truth about the “weapon” and avenge the death of his girlfriend; or will he take the money and retreat to his fishing cabin to live out what is left of his life?

(Spoilers!) Gideon leads the reader on a wild ride from start to finish, including a standoff worthy of the best of Preston and Child.  This new character, so different from the protagonists of their other joint series, is a reckless, irreverent, and wise-cracking, version of an anti-hero who doesn’t pull punches or hold back when lives or truth is on the line. 

I award this book four stars and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Crooked River

Crooked River by Douglas Preston

Crooked River (Pendergast, #19) by Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author), Lincoln Child
Amy Caudill‘s review

Aloysius Pendergast’s vacation just wants a vacation with his ward, Constance Greene, when the new assistant director of the FBI, Walter Pickett, interrupts to send him on the most baffling case of his career.  Over a hundred disembodied feet wash ashore on Sanibel Island, Florida, each wearing identical green shoes.

Pendergast agrees to take the case, with the caveat that Pickett will allow him to use his own substantial latitude in the investigation, unlike the handicap of regulations he was required to conform to in the last book, Verses for the Dead. Part of this “latitude” translates into recalling his partner in the previous case, Agent Coldmoon, who is still recovering from his injuries suffered in line of duty.

The tension is broken somewhat early in the book by a humorous scene where the Coast Guard Commander Baugh, who is the nominal head of the task force investigating, decides to cross into Cuban waters to get surveillance footage of possible beheadings related to the source of the feet.  Unfortunately for the commander but fortunately for averting an international incident, the “beheadings” he allegedly witnesses is actually a volleyball game between prisoners and guards in a Cuban prison.

Forensic evidence soon reveals that all the amputations are self-inflicted, which raises even more questions as to why?  What could possess these people, who are discovered to be immigrants trying to illegally cross into the US from Guatemala, to cause them all to sever one of their own feet in an eerily similar manner?

Each chapter takes a different point of view as a number of subplots and interactions between various characters, major and minor, add to the increasing complexity of the overall story line.  The authors, Preston and Child, have long mastered this style; often writing alternate chapters (according to their shared website.)

Three quarters into the story, the authors reveal that the title takes its name form a location in the Florida Panhandle, a river near the site of a trench where the feet were stored, and carried away during a flood.  What will the investigators, separated by different branches on inquiry, learn about this hidden location, and will they be able to stop this horrible fate from happening to anyone else?  The answers lie in a quasi-military base conducting banned experiments with psychotropic drugs.

I don’t want to give any more spoilers, but I will say that this novel equals any of the best previous in the Pendergast series, and there are hints of another epic book to come as Pickett plays interference again in the final chapter of Crooked River.

I award this book five stars and recommend this series to any readers of police procedurals, thrillers, and even paranormal detective stories, though those particular elements are light in this book.  The story could well be enjoyed by those not familiar with the series, but some nuances will escape those who have not read previous volumes, so consider going back and reading more of the series.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : City of Endless Night

City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston
City of Endless Night (Pendergast, #17) by

Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author), and Lincoln Child
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Amy Caudill‘s review

Jan 29, 2019

This latest installment of the long-running series starring Aloysius X. L. Pendergast, oft-rogue FBI agent, is unlike so many of the authors’ previous works.  Fans of the series have come to expect Pendergast to delve into cases that flirt with the mystical, occasionally delve into the paranormal, and frequently feature macabre murders and even creepier villains.

I am happy to report that while City of Endless Night breaks this mold, the story does not suffer for it in terms of action, suspense, and chilling details.

Pendergast, ably aided by sometimes-partner Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta of the NYPD, investigate a series of murder/decapitations that present more questions with each subsequent victim.  Is there one killer at work? Two?  A copycat?  Or even more?  The bodies pile up, the suspects dry up, and D’Agosta feels the pressure from the mayor and the police brass, but he’s left flailing by Pendergast who is inexplicably off his usual game.

The novel lacks Pendergast’s usual trip into his mind palace to find hidden clues; instead the preternaturally cognizant detective seems distracted, even disinterested at the beginning of the story.  This turn of events actually helps the plot though; no hint of the actual killer is given until three-quarters of the way through the book.

What follows is sheer classic Pendergast-a manhunt with an intelligent, cunning, and utterly ruthless murderer who seeks the ultimate “big game” hunt, pitting himself against a quarry he considers worthy of his attention, Pendergast himself.

I award this latest Pendergast thriller five stars, and am happy that although this is the seventeenth addition to the series, the authors have found a way to keep the characters fresh, and the plot both entertaining and unpredictable.