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4.3 out of 5 stars21
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 17 November 2006
As usual, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child confirm their great ability in writing cool, well-conceived page turners.

In this book in particular, a lot of details about some of the characters are unveiled, and the "Pendergast Trilogy" featuring Aloysius vs. Diogenes finally comes to an end... and what an end!

Apart from the praises for the writing style and action scenes, for the characters and the mood, another point I found particularly strong in this book was the obvious amount of research the authors did. I am Italian, and the small details, for example the streets of Florence, or the cuss exclamation of a Carabiniere, or even the cell number of a bus driver (which uses a correct prefix for an Italian cell phone, no fake "555" number) all prove that they really went into research for the book.

Also, the frequent sentences in Italian are correct and do make sense this time (unlike some of their previous books where the sentences were dictionary-translated and light-years from what a "real" Italian would say).

All in all, a fantastic book, definitely well worth it!

If you appreciate Preston and Child's novels, don't miss this one, with a single caveat: for maximum enjoyment you will need previous knowledge of facts and characters, so reading the other books (at the very least Brimstone and Dance of Death, ideally quite a few others) is *strongly* advised.
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on 18 August 2007
This is a highly enjoyable book and exciting conclusion to a trilogy. One young? character certainly comes into her own here and looks to be the focus of the next book, Wheel of Darkness. Preston and Child are top rate writers of suspense. They are masters of writing highly descriptive paragraphs that don't bog down the flow of the narrative but rather intensifies the suspense. The cat and mouse chase in Florence was page turning stuff.
Poor New York Museum! How many strange occurences and deaths can the museum survive? Wheel of Darkness does look to take the setting far away from New York.
The word from the authors at the end was interesting: a nice way to summarise their novels so far and give a reminder of who appeared where. For instance, I had forgotten that Eli Glinn appeared in The Ice Limit. Keep turning the pages past the Wheel of Darkness sample to find a little addition by Corrie Swanson. And the website's real too! Does this mean that Corrie will get caught up in a future New York mystery along with Smithback, D'Agosta and friends?
Looking forward to more about Penderghast or any other interesting characters the duo can dream up.
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on 20 December 2007
Final volume of the trilogy centered on Agent Pendergast, the Book of the Dead explains the relationship between Pendergast and his terrible brother Dionysius. Special Agent Pendergast is in federal prisons for murders he did not commit, the diamond collection of the NY Museum of Natural History is returned ground to powder, the museum reopens an ancient Egyptian tomb and curse seems to come back to life.

All of this has been carefully plotted and implemented by Pendergast's Machiavellian brother. Why and how Dionysius is so bent on destroying his brother are the core of the book. Carried along by fast-paced action and hints of the supernatural, the action is mainly centered in the New York Museum of Natural History. Filled with factoids about the museum, about ancient Egypt, about gemology and about psychology this is a satisfying end to the trilogy and opens the door to a whole other series!! Also, if you missed reading Tino Georgiou's masterpiece--The Fates, go and read it.
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on 23 June 2006
This is the third book in a triology which started with "Brimstone" and "Dance of Death", and sees the return of Agent A.X.L. Pendergast in the finale against his evil and even more intelligent brother, Diogenes. In the previous book it appeared that Diogenes had completed his "perfect" crime, but actually this was not the case - it was just the warm up for something much bigger and more sinister...

"Book of the Dead" was an absolutely, absolutely fantastic read, ranking amongst my all-time favourite books. Readers familiar with previous books by the authors will find all the usual ingredients: suspense, twists in the plot, humour, thoroughly researched subject matter etc, written in a manner that has you racing to the end.

For maximal enjoyment, I recommend that you read the previous books from which it directly follows (even before the start of the triology), beginning with:

Relic

Reliquary

Cabinet of Curiosities

Still Life With Crows

Brimstone

Dance of Death

Prior to reading this book, the best one in the series was "Still Life With Crows" which, despite the name, was an astonishingly good read. Well, "Book of the Dead" beats even that.
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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2007
What a fantastic finale to a really great trilogy!! Since stumbling upon my first Preston/Child book, I have had the compulsion to buy and read all of them. They are 'unputdownable'! Of all the books, the Pendergast ones are the most enjoyable and, unlike a previous reviewer, I love the fact that many of them take place in the Museum! This gives the books a nice continuity and it is great to meet so many of the characters again. All that remains to be said is: Mr Preston, Mr Child - when is the next book appearing???
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on 31 December 2007
The Book of the Dead is the final installment of the so called 'Diogenes trilogy'.

In my opinion it is the best of the three books and another very enjoyable read from Preston and Child. The atmosphere that they create, especially in the museum, is again very tense and the climax of Diogenes masterplan is very well written and thought out. The description of the Egyptian tomb is excellent.

The relationship and rivalry between Aloysius and Diogenes Pendergast and finding out what happened between the two in their youth, is one of the main focal points of the story. The two brother's share a hatred for eachother and understandable when you find out why.

Not as good as Still life with Crows or Cabinet of Curiosities but still a very good read.

Great to see that they have written the next installment.
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on 13 June 2006
OK, this has been a fun little series but I am ready for new characters and new plot lines! The only reason for this one seems to be tying up all the loose ends, don't get me wrong I enjoyed it and considered it a must read, as will anyone has read the earlier books, BUT I hope the battle between the bothers is now laid to rest. Good read but not up to the level of "Cabinet" or "Crows."
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on 18 August 2010
Judging by the ancillary material published with this book, co-authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are prolific and successful purveyors of popular pot boilers.

While reading through this book, I found myself shuttling between regarding this P&C opus as the most awful tripe (or codswallop, as some Canadians might say) and ruefully enjoying it as a guilty pleasure.

Let us be clear about one thing: this is a book of no literary merit whatever. The P&C formula clearly consists of improbable plotting, characters lifted from a better writer, undigested chunks of research material scattered throughout like raisins in a cookie, silly psychobabble notions, pointless quotations of poetry (proudly and even more pointlessly identified in an appendix) and occasional passages of laughably overwritten, absurdly high-flown material.

As a ghastly example of the last, consider this:

"Because it's time we spoke, you and I. It's the least courtesy you could pay me, after all."

Constance took another step, her fingers tailing along the polished wood. Then she paused. "Courtesy?"....

"Constance," he said in a quiet voice. "Du calme. Du calme."

"Courtesy!" she cried once again. "How dare you speak of courtesy! You murder my guardian's friends, disgrace him, tear him from this house!" She stopped abruptly and struggled. A soft groan rose in her throat: a moan of frustration, mingled with another, more complex emotion.

The man continued to speak in a smooth undertone. "Please understand, Constance, I'm not here to hurt you. I'm restraining you simply to prevent harm to myself."

She struggled again. "Hateful man!" [Pages 86-87 of the paperback edition]

I suggest that such dialogue is truly suitable in only two places: about halfway through the novel "Frankenstein," or in a Monty Python sketch. I laughed and groaned simultaneously, when I stumbled upon it.

And then there is that ever-memorable motif that pops up again and again: "Draaaaag-thump. Draaaaag-thump."

As for the lifted characters, can anybody possibly doubt that the lethally battling Pendergast brothers are other than Ersatz Holmes and Pseudo Moriarty, updated hardly a whit, and deposited improbably in the 21st Century?

There is doubtlessly a thesis to be mined by some industrious doctoral candidate-drone from P&C's lunatic plotting. Constrained by word-length requirements, I'll touch on no more than a jailbreak scenario that is considerably less convincing that the escapes orchestrated from Colonel Klink's stalag by Hogan's Heroes, a diabolical master plan, devised and carried out by the Moriarty-clone, that must have been lifted straight out of the Joker's Gotham City playbook, and a conclusion that all too obviously harks back to a very famous literary precedent, one that will be almost too painfully obvious to virtually anyone who reads it.

Speaking of that conclusion, it comes as a painfully over-extended anti-climax. The book ends properly and perfectly obviously with the conclusion of Chapter 66 on page 496. The book then abruptly changes direction and staggers on for another sixteen chapters--101 pages!--to a second and much lesser finale. If P&C had only a speck less of hack in their collective make-up and an additional speck of art, they might have realized that their second ending, needed or not, would have been better served had it been presented as a one-page kicker.

Finally, there is the matter of tone and style. Throughout the book I experienced odd feelings of familiarity that I could not quite place--particularly with the often repeated introductions of characters with their identifying tags: "Agent Pendergast," or "Captain of Homicide Laura Hayward" or Dr. Adrian Wicherly." It finally occurred to me that such things were characteristic of the old network radio crime dramas. "The Book of the Dead," I realized, owes as much to "The Green Hornet" and "The Shadow" as to "The Final Problem."

This lumpy confection really ought to get two disdainful stars, but I am forced to admit that it has just enough guilty pleasure in it to raise it up to the proud status of a full-fledged mediocrity, so ... three stars.
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on 20 July 2006
If the purpose of fiction is to suspend your disbelief, then this book almost makes it. Unfortunately the background setting, yet again entrenched in the New York Museum is beginning to wear a little thin.

I very much approve of the technique of `bleed through' as Lincoln and Preston describe it, where characters are transferred from novel to novel, as this allows for extended development and thus deeper understanding of the psyche of the protagonists, but it is nonetheless time to move on and leave the dusty artefacts and shards behind.

That said, the novel is typical P and C with a finely plotted infrastructure, conflict between characters (D'Agosta and Hayward, Smithback and Kelly) and the usual schlock horror twist and turns as the museum once again spawns its beastly goings on. The fact that none of the characters seems to find this unusual is a little odd as I personally would have aspired to another vocation by now.

The authors pay deference to James Rollins by allowing Diogenes Pendergast to read one of his novels and there are plenty of references to previous encounters to make the loyal reader (me) feel smug about having religiously followed prequel to sequel.

All in all an easy and interesting read, but not, in my opinion, as original as Mount Dragon, as menacing and claustrophobic as Reliquary or as well paced as Thunderhead.
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VINE VOICEon 8 November 2007
A slightly ramshackle plot and cheesy characters and dialogue somehow don't detract from the fun of this compulsive if forgettable read. I haven't read any of the previous books in the series and maybe this affected my enjoyment, but the fun was sufficient that I may go back and check out some more books by the authors.
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