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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 April 2008
I normally look out for Sp Agt Pendergast books by these authors but I think that they have come to the end with this one. The story is week and the characters no longer believable. I lost all interest after the first chapter and finished it due to my dislike of not finishing books i start.

Worth a punt No.
Worth a miss YES.
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on 5 July 2010
Something has been stolen from a Tibetan monastery and Pendergast along with Constance Greene must track it down. Whatever it is that has been stolen, people are dropping dead and doing the strangest things because of it. Most of the adventure unfolds aboard a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic. I've no problem with the story being 'far-fetched', Pendergast stories are always adventure romps, with a little dash of pseudo-science or supernatural thrown in for good measure, it's just that the ending seemed a little rushed.
High point is when we see a very different (nasty?) side to Pendergast after he's come in contact with the 'object'.
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on 22 November 2008
I give this one 4 stars, but maybe 3.5 would be better. I'll give it 4 because of the strength of the series in general - and because of the sub-plot I discuss below. However, this book has definitely got me thinking about the sustainability of sequels or a series. If I had picked this book up and read it by itself I would have been reasonably pleased by an interesting and fun story. I enjoyed the "Diogenes Trilogy" quite a bit and have put "Brimstone" on my list of books to try. So while this book continued that story on, and while the characters developed in a way that is almost must-read if you're a fan of the Pendergast novels, this book doesn't really bring anything new to the party. It has lost the dark, creepy Gothic feel and atmosphere of previous books. Call it "Pendergast Light". I did like the sub-plot involving Commodore Cutter and Capt Carol Mason who were very real to me and locked in a battle between youth and age, male and female where who was right and who was wrong was never clear during the plot and left me thinking after the book had finished - more so than the main plot. And maybe that tells you what you need to know. After the Diogenes trilogy the authors would have had to pull an even bigger rabbit out of their hat to keep things going and that doesn't happen here. I think the villain is particularly weak. It will be interesting to see where the story goes from here, although that is foreshadowed in this book. If the authors return to what worked in previous books, can they raise the bar, or will it just be "Pendergast V"...
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on 2 August 2009
The story begins as Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast and his young side-kick, Constance Greene, climb a perilous Himalayan mountain path to an ancient Tibetan monastery where the monks need some help. Their inner sanctum has been violated and a dangerous treasure has been stolen. The artefact must be recovered before it wreaks havoc on the human race.

The trail takes the agents on a maiden voyage cruise aboard the world's newest, biggest ocean liner. The sophistication of the on-board automation both helps and hinders the pair. There are some strong personalities in this story, but the culprit has to be the weakest character. There are a lot of supernatural twists, but they are too transparent.

Reading this is quite frustrating, because I kept hearing myself say, "That could never happen that way, even in fantasy fiction." I like to be able to believe that there is the faintest possibility that some of the strange events could actually happen. I felt this way when I used to read Dennis Wheatley, and this book reminds me a lot of that style of writing; but, Wheatley out-classes Preston and Child by a long way, in my opinion.

Worth a read if you have the time on your hands.
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on 17 February 2009
This was my first novel by these authors and I approached it with little anticipation and my cool approach was justified by the start which I found more than a little risible. I read about the author's acclaimed research. It appears they use an old atlas, in a hurry, at times - their brief travelogue of England is hilariously wrong.
So there I was, reading a sub-James Bond, badly written 'thriller', prepared to give it another chapter or two before giving up, when it suddenly metapmorphosed into quite an exciting horror story, still appallingly written but a book that I juist had to finish.
The story was more than a little far-fetched, I don't know that much about steering massive ocean going liners but I am pretty sure what the captain did with that boat was impossible! Also, I may have blinked and missed that sentence, but who was the serial killer?
So, dreadful literature, entertaining quick read and I'll probably read some more from the series.
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on 30 July 2012
On a journey of discovery, FBI Agent Pendergast and his ward, Constance Green, enter a Tibetan monastery for enlightenment yet find the theft of a mysterious artifact that will have them traveling the globe once more to unravel a mystery. The trail leads them to the Britannia, the most luxurious ocean liner in the world about to make its maiden voyage from Britain, bound for New York. But there is a killer on board and madness so severe it could sink the ship in the middle of the freezing Atlantic.

Forget the obvious parallels with the Titanic, this is a story that offers so much yet fails to deliver. The plot is good, for the most part, and the characters are engaging (which is something the writing tandem of Preston and Child have a unique gift of achieving) but the climax of the novel falls flat on its face. In particular, the supernatural entity simply has no place in the book and it seems has been added as a convenient way of finding a simple solution to a major problem. Pendergast is a solid character once more, although he is starting to wear on the nerves a bit after so many novels. How can one man's luck hold this long? Constance Green doesn't offer much to the story either, other than the ability to aid the investigation by infiltrating the ship's cleaning staff. In fact, the ship's officers, in particular LeSeur and Kemper, add more to the novel than our two main heroes.

The writing is, as always, captivating, and the writers have absolutely no problems dragging the reader into a story and holding them there. The descriptions and insight to the characters and their lives and involvement in the proceedings never fail to enthrall the reader. These series of Pendergast novels do seem to be on a worrying trend of diminishing standards, however. Hopefully the slope isn't too slippery, allowing the remaining books in this series to grab a foothold and not deteriorate too much.
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on 7 April 2008
I have a soft spot for Pendergast (the FBI agent hero of the book) and his semi-mystical slant on life and detection. He is a great character if one suspends disbelief at the range and breadth of his extraordinay talents, from card counting to fine art, from physical prowess to lock-picking. His side-kick, Constance, is less enthralling, but who knows may develop in future titles. This novel at times has the feel of a blockbuster disaster movie, but it rattles along quite nicely, as do all P&C novels. A diverting way to spend a wet afternoon or two.
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on 29 May 2016
Really disappointing. I expected this to be far fetched, but trains through Croyden to Southampton and £100 notes.I know the authors are Americans, but there were two of them, so perhaps one could have done some research.

I kept wanting to stop assuming it would get better, but even the end with a damp finish.

Save your money and don't waste your time.
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on 9 September 2008
I can see what Lincoln & Preston were trying to do with this novel.
They needed to get a different backdrop / setting than the New York History Museum. I have genuinely enjoyed all their novels involving this formidable location, but it was time for something fresh.
They needed to progress Constance Greene, a character that has had 5 novels of varying degrees of development. Whilst at the same time hanging on to their finest creation of Pendergast.

Those, as I see it were their main criteria. But I have to say for the majority, they failed on both accounts.

There are 2 main locations in this book (with a few travel stop offs en route from one to the other). Location A: An ancient Tibetan monastery. For me this just reeked of cliché. Maybe cliché is the wrong word, but this location has been portayed many times before, more often than not as a comedy backdrop. I mean, even Ace Ventura did it! Location B: A groundbreaking ocean liner (parallel to the Titanic). Again this venue seemed to strike me as slightly wishy washy - evocative of a Ruth Rendl whodunit mystery, crossing off suspects from a list of passengers... And for a while the story played out that way aswell. Location B only managed to redeem itself towards the end of the novel when the focus switched to the operations of said liner.

Constance Greene continued to frustrate me. She was the #2 character in the book - the other main character alongside Pendergast. But she continued to whither blandly in the background and did not fulfil this central role effectively. Maybe it is due to the eclipse effect from the main man, but thinking back to previous novels, other main characters pulled it off; D'Agosta managed to punch his weight, as did Nora Kelly, Margo Green etc (hold on... Margo Green... Constance Greene... is there a connection I've missed?)... Anyhow, Constance has never really flourished. Maybe in future novels.

Pendergast has without a doubt developed as a character. I re-read my Lincoln Preston collection every couple of years, and am amazed at his progression from distant main character role in Relic to central character in subsequent novels. Where as perfection as a character was probably reached around `Dance of Death' / `Book of the Dead', in this book he has gone beyond perfection to become almost godly in his talents / skills / ability. When characters become that perfect, they lose their credibility and believability.

And finally on to the story itself. Despite the above I was compelled to read on... and on... I can never fault Lincoln & Preston's descriptiveness, and ability to keep the reader hooked. They do really manage to conjure up magnificent imagery. Some scenes I felt were stretched out too much; a certain conversation between Constance & Pendergast towards the end for example seems to span several chapters basically repeating the same content.
The plot revolves around the supernatural. I find that where Lincoln & Preston usually excels is backing up a story with scientific fact or at least scientific theory. This one however fell significantly short of this usual pattern, and only a page or so in the epilogue was dedicated to explaining the events through science, and they turned out to be very poor, unbelievable explanations for most of it.

For me this was defiantly their weakest novel to date, but I will continue to bear with them. I hope this is a temporary blip for them. Nearly all of their work prior to this has been exquisite.
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on 20 May 2016
A step away from the previous format of this series this book takes us away from our previous homes and deals far more with the spiritual sides of our characters than anything previously.
Because of this it provides further flesh on the bones of already well loved characters and cements a solid base to go forward from.
My one piece of advice though would be to read these books in order as the star's of this book grow and develop throughout and because each book is built on the foundation's of those that came before things make more sense in linear progression.
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