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Dance of Death    by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child order for
Dance of Death
by Douglas Preston
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

As readers turned the final few pages of last year's darkly entertaining Brimstone, Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast was being entombed inside an old Italian wine cellar, left to die a slow and agonizing death. Even fellow cop and friend Vincent D'Agosta is certain that the thus far indestructible Pendergast finally met his match. A few months after his friend's presumed death, D'Agosta is summoned to Pendergast's estate and given a letter that begins, 'My Dearest Vincent, if you are reading this letter, it means that I am dead. It also means that I died before I could accomplish the task, that rightfully, belongs to me and no other. That task is preventing my brother, Diogenes, from committing what he once boasted would be the 'perfect' crime.'

Via the letter, Pendergast convinces D'Agosta that he is now the 'single, dedicated individual who has the best chance of preventing my brother from carrying out this crime'. Even more unnerving - he only has one week to stop Diogenes. While D'Agosta follows clues and directions left by Pendergast, it's Captain Laura Hayward who connects the dots that link three bizarre murders; she discovers that each victim was at one time acquainted with or close to Pendergast. That's when Diogenes brings his terror campaign closer to home, targeting D'Agosta and others who've become important to him. The body count keeps rising and D'Agosta receives yet another shock in the form of Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. He'd thought 'remaining dead' would throw off his cunning brother but his plan backfires. Now he and D'Agosta must put their careers and their lives on the line to stop a madman from committing the 'crime of the century'.

The marvelously talented writing duo of Preston and Child score big points this time. Aloysius Pendergast is a singular character who reads like a modern day Sherlock Holmes and whose background the authors have purposely doled out in minute increments through half a dozen previous adventures. Now that infamous brother Diogenes has finally stepped boldly onstage, the plot truly thickens, even if a few of the twists are just a bit over the top once you get to thinking about them. A rich secondary cast (recurring, as well as a few intriguing new characters), great pacing, and stellar writing make Dance of Death an entertaining thrill ride you won't soon forget.

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