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Cold Vengeance    by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child order for
Cold Vengeance
by Douglas Preston
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

'I'm ... I'm so sorry! I've killed my brother-in-law!' Judson Esterhazy tells the Scottish authorities at the beginning of this thriller. On a hunting trip to the Highlands, Esterhazy has made a cold-blooded killing look like an accident. Unfortunately for Esterhazy, his victim is still alive and that spells plenty of trouble for the would-be killer.

Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is the purported dead man and not only did the wily FBI agent save himself from his adversary, but he's also learned some shattering news that will become the focus of the rest of this novel. He has learned that his wife Helen, whom he thought was dead for the past twelve years, is, in fact, still alive. Her brother revealed this blockbuster just before he pulled the trigger!

Over the course of the next 300 plus pages, Pendergast mounts a search to not only run his brother-in-law to ground but also find out if Helen is, indeed, still living. The search will take the agent from Scotland to New York City and the bayous of Louisiana. And, as you might imagine, the more he digs into his wife's past and the closer he gets to Esterhazy, the more Pendergast realizes that there have been family secrets that have hidden a dark conspiracy that boggles the imagination.

At the center of the cover-up is a shadowy group called the Covenant whose tentacles reach far and into high places. Although a few subplots will muddy the story just a bit, the search for Helen is the main focus of this book and that's what will keep the reader glued to the page.

The ending will resolve the 'is she alive or isn't she' issue, but it will also create a whole new set of problems for Agent Pendergast. These will, no doubt, be resolved in the final title in this trilogy. If you wish to read them in order, then begin with Fever Dream. It is not totally necessary but obviously it makes sense to see how the first novel sets up the events that unfold in Cold Vengeance.

2nd Review by Martina Bexte (Rating:3):

Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is back - with a vengeance - literally!

In the previous instalment, Fever Dream, the suave, quirky and always unshakeable FBI agent begins to suffer emotional turmoil after discovering, through a conversation with his brother-in-law Judson Esterhazy, that Judson's sister (Pendergast's wife, Helen) is alive and in hiding somewhere in the world. Determined to discover her whereabouts, and more importantly, why Helen and her brother found it necessary to stage such an elaborate death, Pendergast relies on his own singular skills, as well as his considerable resources and wealth, to locate Helen. But not before Judson shows his true hand and for all intents, removes Pendergast from the picture.

Back home in New York sometime partner and friend Detective Vincent D'Agosta, is shocked and saddened to learn of Pendergast's death. Once the initial shock wears off, however, Vinnie also smells a rat. Pendergast has been listed as missing or dead before - and has always risen from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix. Vinnie would bet his own life that Pendergast has good reason to lay low. He travels to Scotland get answers - only to be told to go back home and 'keep out of it'.

Pendergast begins unravelling an intricate web of deception, lies and murder, and a conspiracy that spans generations, one that's firmly ensnared Judson and Helen, and one that men with far greater wealth, power and influence than Pendergast will kill to keep secret.

How soon will the conclusion to this engrossing (if often convoluted) trilogy end? Not soon enough if you ask me! Cold Vengeance delivers on all counts and adds another glimmer of intriguing light into the ever-enigmatic Aloysius Pendergast's background.

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