Dance of Death (2005)

After reading Brimstone, I couldn't wait to get into the follow up novel, Dance of Death. The dynamic writing duo of Preston and Child have carefully crafted an story that brings a new level to serialization.

In Brimstone, you may recall that Agent Pendergrast was hot on the trail of his archenemy brother, Diogenes. Clearly there was bad blood between them, and that was before Pendergrast got bricked up inside an Italian castle. This time Diogenes is planning a horrific crime, and Pendergrast enlists the aid of his policeman friend, Vinny D'Agosta to stop the crime. The only thing blocking them is that they don't know what he's going to do, when he's gonna do it, or even where he really is. And they can't turn to conventional law enforcement because according to them Diogenes died years ago, and isn't even alive. Yeah, this is an easy crime to solve!

What follows is a great story on two levels. The first is that this book's story stands on its own, and is a decent read as the plot progresses at runaway freight train speed, or maybe faster in a few spots. The second level is what makes it even better. Throughout Dance of Death, there are references to characters and plots from many of the other novels that these authors have written. It's a real treat for the dedicated reader to find references to (and characters and locations from) Relic, Cabinet, Thunderhead, The Ice Limit (my favorite is the Extreme Engineering Solutions stuff where they even talk about the unfinished mission of a certain large rock...), and the more recent Still Life With Crows, and even Mount Dragon. Preston and Child have labored hard to populate their universe with complex and dynamic characters, and they are not afraid to call on them as the situation arises. They refer to this as "pangea" and it clearly sets them apart from other authors.

In my view, Dance of Death is a really fine thriller, and about as good as it can get. While it's a lot of work to read such a pile of books to really appreciate it, the serious fan will be well rewarded for their effort. Any fan of thrillers should put the Preston & Child duo at the top of their reading list as I do.

Overall Grade: A+

Reviewed by Jonas

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