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Brimstone    by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child order for
by Douglas Preston
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

In a secluded Hampton estate, a wealthy music producer is found gruesomely killed by what can only be scientifically explained as a very rare case of spontaneous human combustion. Telling evidence however, leads to speculation that something more 'Faustian' occurred in the barricaded attic room: the stench of brimstone still hangs in the air and a cloven hoof print has been burned deep into the wooden floor. Was this truly a case of spontaneous human combustion or did the Devil come calling to collect his due?

Having already investigated various supernatural cases, Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast once again combines forces with officers Vincent D'Agosta and Laura Hayward (Relic & Reliquary) to get to the bottom of this truly baffling death. As they question acquaintances of the deceased they discover that Jeremy Grove was not well-liked. They also find that mere days before his death, Grove made a series of phone calls and hosted a lavish dinner party in an effort to 'mend fences'. When another acquaintance is found murdered in the same horrifying manner, Pendergast and D'Agosta sift through an entirely new set of clues, ones that slowly fall into place and eventually take them to Italy, where they discover that two decades previously, four friends may indeed have made the acquaintance of a Devil.

Preston and Child have created another wonderfully complicated and gripping story, filled with enough twists, turns, surprises and nasty villains to keep even the most jaded suspense fans thrilled. Outstanding characterizations add panache, particularly in recurring character, Special FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast, a modern day resurrection of Sherlock Holmes if there ever was one. After a host of curious cases, the wealthy and eccentric Pendergast remains something of an enigma. His characterization is observed only through the points of view of the rest of the cast, making him and his family history that much more mystifying. The surprising conclusion (and cliffhanger) promises even more revelations from Pendergast's past. Preston and Child have a real talent for taking well-used themes and adding their own unique twists -- they've done so again. Don't miss Brimstone -- it rocks!

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