4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Wheel of 'Meh',
This review is from: The Wheel of Darkness (Paperback)
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.