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Dance of Death Hardcover – June 14, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The always reliable team of Preston and Child revisit Special FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast, last seen in 2004's Brimstone, and others from past bestsellers (Relic; The Cabinet of Curiosities) in this intriguing thriller set in and around New York City and the halls of the Museum of Natural History. Born a misanthropic loner but driven insane by seeing his parents burned alive when he was a teen, Aloysius's madman brother, Diogenes, has begun murdering Aloysius's friends. Aloysius begs old friend Lt. Vincent D'Agosta to help him defeat his brother, and Vincent does his best while the brothers spar and others die. There are a number of subplots, one involving an ATM robber and flasher known as the Dangler and another focusing on the museum's exhibition of sacred masks, but these fade away as the deadly duel between the brothers takes center stage. Think Sherlock Holmes locked in a death struggle with his smarter brother, Mycroft. Like Brimstone, this novel doesn't end so much as simply pause while the authors work on the next installment. While it's not as good as some of their earlier efforts, it's still pretty darn good.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Picking up two months after the events chronicled in Brimstone (2004), which saw the untimely demise of popular series hero FBI Special Agent Pendergast, this new novel by the Preston-Child team brings together characters from previous novels. The people closest to Pendergast are dying in horrible ways, and only one man can be responsible: Diogenes, Pendergast's long-lost brother, who has supposedly been dead for years. Meanwhile, at the New York Museum of Natural History, an internal battle rages over the rightful ownership of some ancient relics. Will these two stories link up? Well, of course, no surprise there. It's how they link up that packs the surprises. This is an ambitious novel with a gimmicky plot that could have landed with a resounding thud. Instead, the story soars; the cast of familiar characters--researcher Margo Green, journalist Bill Smithback, curator Nora Kelly--is given a chance to stretch, and the authors deliver an exhilarating finale. Good stuff, and there's more to come, as the novel's last lines make clear. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Edition edition (June 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446576972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446576970
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (358 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #912,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

192 of 212 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on June 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "Dance of Death" authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have taken the logical step of something that has been occurring casually in their writing over the last three novels, they have pulled together all of their joint works (save "Riptide" which can be neither included nor excluded) into one cohesive universe. The primary characters, Bill Smithback, Nora Kelly, Margo Green, Laura Hayward, Vincent D'Agosta and of course Aloysius Pendergast, have all been featured prominently in past works, and while I haven't been much of a fan of this inbreeding of plot lines, I have to admit that it is carried of with a great deal of panache.

"Dance of Death" is a sequel to the previous "Brimstone", and likewise represents the latest in an arc concerning Pendergast that began with "The Cabinet of Curiosities" and continued in "Still Life With Crows". As such, this isn't the best book to start with these authors, as some sections will border on the incomprehensible to new readers. Dealing with a deadly grudge match between Pendergast and his brother Diogenes, "Dance of Death" cleverly sets up all of the previous Lincoln and Child novels as a training ground for the penultimate showdown between these two enigmatic geniuses, which will, at least as of this writing, find its denouement in next summer's book. Thus be forewarned, that "Dance of Death" ends in a cliffhanger. However, since it is obvious within the context of the book, and since the authors have been more than forthcoming about that fact, this is hardly a criticism.

It is worth noting that as with other recent Preston and Child novels, "Dance of Death" drifts away from the early science and story driven novels, and derives more of its tension from character development.
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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Colin P. Lindsey VINE VOICE on July 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I am a confirmed addict of this series, and warned my girlfriend when this book came out I would be ignoring her for a few days! If you haven't indulged in a Pendergast novel before, then I highly recommend you go back to the beginning ("Relic") and start working your way forward. You will love it! Cabinet of Curiosities and Still Life with Crows are two of my favorite books ever and I would happily recommend them to any and everyone. In fact, I do recommend them all the time, and have received many thanks for it. All the books in the series are entertaining, are some are indeed extraordinary, riveting, compelling, and leave you gnashing your teeth waiting for the next one. They are absolutely worth reading.

Agent Pendergast is titularly an FBI agent but his ties with that organizations seem very loose indeed since he seems to wander the country with no partner, investigate whatever he wants, and doesn't appear to report in to anyone. He is a wonderfully interesting, intelligent, and resourceful character who is independently wealthy from a family inheritance. He is in many ways a modern Sherlock Holmes, and like Mr. Holmes he comes saddled with his own Moriarty, in this case his younger brother, Diogenes. The Cain and Abel parallel is obvious throughout this book, and it works well to create an accelerating tension.

The story line has been leading up to the conflict with his brother Diogenes for some time as Pendergast has agonized about him in previous novels and warned friends that his brother, whom no one has had contact with since his supposed "death" twenty years earlier, has an evil plot afoot to commit the perfect crime, one which will affect the whole world. It is in this novel, Dance of Death, that his brother makes his move.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ric Wasley on September 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely enjoyed Dance of Death. As a matter of fact this entire series has been great and Preston and Child have really created a winning combination in both their writing and the characters of Pendergast and D'Agosta. The pairing of two unlikely detective partners, one a tough talking, no nonsense NY PD cop, Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta and the mysterious but urbane FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast make the perfect 'odd couple'. Together they continue to solve quirky mysteries laced with menace and terror. I particularly liked Dance of Death because for this one the authors have chosen to bring the long lost brother of Pendergast into the picture as the most menacing villain yet. Diogenes is almost like Pendergasts alter ego, brilliant but evil. In the hands of lesser authors, the evil brother villain could become a caricature of 'the evil twin'. But Child and Preston have pulled it off masterfully, giving the fiendishly devious tortures and Catch 22 situations he puts his despised brother in, just the right amount believability. They somehow manage to walk the fine line between a believable psychopath and a comic book villain.

This is a fun novel for anyone who likes suspense, terror and smart classy detective work with characters who jump out of the page at you.

I heartily recommend this book and the entire series.

Ric Wasley
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By DanD VINE VOICE on June 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast has been freed from his tomb inside an Italian castle (let's face it, we all knew he wasn't dead). However, he and his friend, NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta, have no time for celebration. For Pendergast must face an evil that has haunted him for years, and which has now arisen to take its vengeance: his long-lost (and thoroughly evil) brother, Diogenes.

Diogenes is no ordinary criminal; he is, in fact, quite possibly the only person smarter and more cunning than Pendergast himself. And he is bent on destroying Pendergast, by murdering friends old and new, and framing the FBI agent. But Diogenes's twisted brilliance does not end there. For behind his crimes lies a motive so unthinkable, so inhuman, that it can only come to one outcome: death.

"Dance of Death" is one of the fastest-paced thrillers I have read in a long time. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child continue their well-researched, exhillerating brand of suspense featuring the popular Special Agent Pendergast. An added bonus for longtime Preston/Child fans: the return of characters such as Margo Green and Bill Smithback (both from the duo's first novel, "Relic"), Nora Kelly (from "Thunderhead"), and Laura Hayward (from "Reliquary" and "Brimstone"), plus the occasional mention of minor characters from other previous novels.

But "Dance of Death" is more than just another Pendergast novel. It serves almost as the second act in a three-act play (with "Brimstone" being the first act). It tidies up just enough to leave the reader satisfied, while leaving enough questions unanswered to ensure that those who read this novel will rush out and get the next one. Of course, Preston/Child fans will do that anyway, because they know that with this duo, you get nothing less than the best. Want proof? Here's "Dance of Death," the perfect book to keep you awake all night.
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