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Still Life with Crows (Pendergast, Book 4) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446612766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446612760
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (398 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This latest Preston and Child thriller, even in abbreviated form, offers gore galore, mutilations, bizarre ritual murders, an obstreperous sheriff, a young woman in jeopardy, a town consumed by terror and a spooky local legend-in short, an abundance of traditional suspense novel ingredients. Compensating for this apparent lack of imagination is the thriller's remarkable hero, Special Agent Pendergast, who's on leave from the FBI. This somewhat ethereal, cerebral specialist in macabre murders is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Mulder of The X-Files, but with his courtly Southern manner and combat expertise, he's very much his own man. Narrator Auberjonois, a familiar stage and screen presence, uses an appropriately silky accent and a playfully sarcastic tone for Pendergast. Auberjonois is equally successful with the other characters, especially the hard-headed but good-hearted Sheriff Dent Hazen, who emerges as a Wilfred Brimley minus the bluster; 18-year-old town rebel Corrie Swanson; and the killer, whose method of communication would challenge any vocal interpreter. Equally important, Auberjonois narrates the tale with the sort of mesmerizing intensity that can, and does, turn a fairly familiar yarn into a scary campfire chillfest.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The authors of such hits as Relic (1992) and The Cabinet of Curiosities [BKL Je 1 & 15 02] bring back Special Agent Pendergast, the FBI man whose slightly archaic dialogue, unique mode of dress, and seemingly endless array of esoteric facts make him a fascinating lead character. This time out Pendergast is in Medicine Creek, Kansas, a small town that appears to be home to its very own serial killer. The novel begins with a gruesome murder, after which we're introduced to wily Sheriff Dent Hazen, a man who doesn't take kindly to out-of-towners investigating crimes on his turf. Just as we're getting to know Hazen, the pace kicks into high gear, with more bodies and a full-tilt investigation. As usual, Preston and Child deftly mix the real and the surreal, creating an atmosphere in which everything, for reasons we can't quite nail down, seems a tad off-kilter. Call it creeping paranoia, perhaps, or the dreadful certainty that something awful is about to happen. Whatever you call it, it's a recipe for success. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Douglas Preston, who worked for several years in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is the author of the acclaimed nonfiction works Dinosaurs in the Attic and Cities of Gold, and the novel, Jennie. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 94 people found the following review helpful By J. N. Mohlman VINE VOICE on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child since "Relic", and during that time I have come to expect quality writing, great characters, tons of plot twists and bizarre, unexpected endings from them. Generally speaking, "Still Life With Crows" lives up to those expectations, but the ending unfortunately falls short, and the resolution leaves some troubling holes. That's not to say this is a bad novel, but fans of the authors may find that it doesn't quite live up to their expectations.
Set in a small town in Kansas, "Still Life With Crows" has a creepy vibe from the very beginning that the authors superbly develop over the first two hundred pages. All too often, novels set in small towns are replete with stereotypes that detract from the story. Preston and Child, however, have written their best characters yet as they capture the full spectrum of small town Americana. From the sheriff is a wonderfully complex character who brilliantly plays the part of a typical rural sheriff even as he masks a deeper, more thoughtful man, to the aging local newspaperman, who is no less sophisticated than his big city counterparts, the authors weave a tapestry that draws the reader in.
At the same time, Preston and Child exercise their considerable gifts for descriptive writing. Their ability to capture the still, oppressive heat of the plains and to imbue sprawling cornfields with a latent menace is admirable. Moreover, as the town of Medicine Creek falls prey to a murderous rampage, the authors create their most genuinely scary settings since "Relic". The murders are performed in an oddly ritualistic fashion that haunts the town even as they defy explanation by traditional means.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the fourth book by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child in which FBI Special Agent Prendergast has played a special role. In the last book (The Cabinet of Curiosities) he has been promoted to a main character. Prendergast is an almost over-cultured southern gentleman who is almost a classic model of the aesthete. He has an irritating superciliousness and an unorthodox approach that inevitably puts him at odds with the powers that be.
In Still Life With Crows, an intriguing series of killings draws Prendergast to the little town of Medicine Creek, Kansas. The killings are bizarre - a dead woman arranged in a ring of valuable arrows, a dog killed just for its tail, disemboweled and stuffed corpses. Equally eerie are the towns old legends of the Curse of the Forty-fives - a story of a ghostly band of Indians that arose from nowhere and killed the white men who were hunting them.
Prendergast inserts himself in the investigation, drafting Corrie Swanson, the town's sole Goth and trouble-maker as his chauffer and assistant. An unlikely relationship that grows slowly as Corrie's suspicions relax, almost stealing center stage from the murders.
As they have done repeatedly, Preston and Child demonstrate excellent story-telling skills building both characters and tension, filling a plot with details, creating a horror story out of cornrows and stalactites. They do have one habitual flaw, though. By halfway through the book the reader can make an intelligent guess about the nature of the murderer. Identity and motive are still a mystery, but the writers simply drop too many hints. They try to make up for this by using the last 100 pages for a frantic, high tension pursuit, but some damage cannot be undone.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Without official sanctioning, FBI Special Agent Pendergast arrives in Medicine Creek, Kansas to investigate a serial killer leaving behind eerie signatures to include a mutilated corpse inside a circle of crows "nailed" to stakes. The elegant Pendergast seems like a polished apple among cornstalks as his urbane lifestyle clearly sticks out in this rural community.
He hires as his chauffeur and overall local guide rebel without a cause teenage girl Corrie Swanson, who also sticks out in the middle of the cornfields. Additional murders occur and Pendergast, using the Bhutanese meditation technique Chongg Ran, links them to a nineteenth century Indian massacre of outlaws. As the local law enforcement resent Pendergast's interference on the case, the killer abducts Corrie forcing Pendergast to follow into the cat's cave to try to rescue his local escort before she becomes the latest victim.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's tale is fun though STILL LIFE WITH CROWS seems like a weaker than usual entry. Pendergast is like a debonair modernized cross between Holmes and Flint with Corrie being his "Watsonette". The story line is crisp, but the killer seems unacceptable once Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs reveal the identity of the culprit. Fans of the series will appreciate the latest tale, but newcomers will be better suited to try previous works like THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES to obtain the full rich flavor of the tea.
Harriet Klausner
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Macdonald on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed "Still Life With Crows" more than "A Cabinet of Curiosities" but not as much as "Relic". It is a fast, fun read. Special Agent Pendergast is back and in fine form. There's a new locale, but with plenty of allusions to past Preston and Child novels. The book has some very graphic descriptions in it of gruesome murders, but other than that it's a fine mystery. I think we can look forward to another Pendergast book soon, judging by the side story with Wren and the cabinet of curiosities.
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