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The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast, Book 3) Hardcover – June 3, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In seven bestselling novels (from Relic to The Ice Limit), Preston and Child have delivered a body of science-based thrillers that for high excitement and robust scientific imaginings rival those of Michael Crichton. Their eighth outing is another richly entertaining tale, about the hunt for a seemingly immortal serial killer at work in New York City. Preston and Child revive characters and settings from earlier novels, often a red flag that authorial imagination is tiring; but in this case, all comes together with zing. There's FBI Special Agent Pendergast (from Relic), pale, refined and possessed of a Holmes-like brain; dogged New York Times reporter William Smithback Jr. and his fiery erstwhile girlfriend, Nora Kelly of the New York (read American, where Preston used to work) Museum of Natural History (both characters from Thunderhead with the museum the setting for Relic). The action begins when groundbreaking for an apartment tower in downtown Manhattan reveals a charnel house of murder victims from the late 19th century. Enter Pendergast, who for unexplained reasons taps Kelly to study the remains before the site is stripped by the building's developer, a Donald Trump-type who, with the mayor's backing, will accept no construction delays. As Kelly calls on Smithback for investigative help, the city is struck by killings that duplicate the earlier murders, with the victims' spinal cords ripped away and clues pointing to a 19th-century scientist who sought the secret of immortality. Featuring fabulous locales, colorful characters, pointed riffs on city and museum politics, cool forensic and paleontological speculation and several gripping set pieces including an extended white-knuckle climax, this a great beach novel, at times gruesome, always fun: Preston-Child at the top of their game.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-FBI Special Agent Pendergast needs the talents of Nora Kelly, an archaeologist, and William Smithback, Jr., a researcher and reporter, to track down a serial killer whom he is sure has been stalking his prey since the late-19th century. When a real-estate developer demolishes a building and finds victims of a murderer who killed by tearing out their spinal columns, the three team up to pursue the evil behind the acts. Along the way, they nearly lose their lives as they relentlessly track the killer who, indeed, is still alive at the beginning of the 21st century. Pendergast stands out as a unique character, mysterious in his own right, with almost superhuman strength and endurance, and encyclopedic knowledge, and the human emotions and abilities of his two assistants intensifies interest in them. The authors again weave facts from New York City history with a thriller plot to produce an adventure filled with fast-moving events, gruesome scenes, and enough scary moments to keep the pages turning quickly. Fans of Preston and Child's Relic (Tor, 1996) or Reliquary (Forge, 1997) will enjoy this title as well.
Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (June 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446530220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446530224
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (581 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book made me read every page till the very end.
Gavreel33
I've enjoyed all of the Preston/Child books I've read, and this is one of their best.
Craig Larson
Great book, very enjoyable, fast paced read, full of unexpected twists and turns.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Cabinet Of Curiosities" is the first book I've read by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and now I look forward to reading more of their work. I understand that many of this book's characters are from their earlier novels, but this character revival does not disturb the narrative's flow at all. All necessary background is explained well, and gives depth to the relationships and plotline. My one complaint about this novel is that it is at least 100 pages too long. The authors build suspense to a fever pitch, the tension peaks, begins to fall-off, and their point is still not made, nor are the various mysteries solved. There are also two endings. One is not very satisfying, and the other, much better conclusion, is found in the epilogue. The lack of tightness in the narrative, makes the novel weaker than it would have been with better editing. That said, this is a real thriller, and scary/chilling to boot - the way Stephen King's early novels are scary.
During the excavation for the construction of a sixty-five story residential tower in lower Manhattan, a charnel house of murder victims is discovered. The 36 victims were destitute youths, residing along the crime-ridden waterfront of 1870s New York City. They were buried beneath what was then known as Shottum's Cabinet. Cabinets of curiosities housed strange & diverse collections of artifacts, and were the precursors to the natural history museum.
FBI Special Agent Pendergast enters the story to investigate this most heinous of American serial murders. He calls upon Dr. Nora Kelly, archeologist, conservator and researcher at New York's Museum of Natural History, for assistance in his investigation. Dr. Kelly, in turn involves her fiance, New York Times investigative reporter William Smithback.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's seventh novel has been a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait. It represents, without question, their best writing to date. As always, the scene is set with great skill, but now their talent for set piece drama has evolved into excellent characterization and superbly subtle plot development.
It would be difficult for me to describe the story without spoiling the plot, but I can safely say that "The Cabinet of Curiosities" is a diabolically twisted thriller. What starts out as a seemingly standard, albeit very creepy, serial killer mystery rapidly develops into something far more bizarre, and vastly more sinister. I read a lot, and it is rare that I am caught completely off guard by plot twists, but with one hundred pages to go I was hit with not one, but two! The authors deftly throw the reader off guard at a key moment, which makes the concluding chapters absolutely breathless.
As I alluded to earlier, the writing in this novel is outstanding; "The Cabinet of Curiosities" is much more thoughtful than their earlier novels, and significantly darker. While still showing their roots in the "techno-thriller" genre, Preston and Child have branched out into considerations of love, madness and morality. Whereas their earlier novels certainly told a great story, and contained tragically flawed characters, this novel makes an excellent stab at exploring the heart of darkness in a much more methodical, dare I say, literary, way.
Of particular note in this regard is the character of Pendergast. For those readers who are unfamiliar with "Relic" and "Reliquary", he is an FBI agent with remarkably refined tastes, and equally unorthodox methods.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first book I've read by this writing team, though it will not be my last. Preston and Child work well together, and I'm interested in reading their solo work as well.
In this not-quite-contemporary setting (only one person has a cell phone, for instance), New Orleans FBI Special Agent Pendergast is inexplicably interested in the recent discovery of a charnel beneath a New York construction site. He builds a team of assistants: Nora Kelly, Utahan archaeologist determined to make a go of her once-in-a-lifetime chance at working at the world's greatest natural history museum; William Smithback, reporter aching for a Pulitzer (and a suit worthy of the acceptance ceremony); Patrick O'Shaughnessy, a sergeant in the NY Police Department, fifth generation cop at the mercy of a cruel and petty precinct captain; Proctor, his invisible and indispensable chauffeur.
These main characters, excepting Proctor, are well fleshed out and engaging, while Pendergast himself is an intriguing variant on the Sherlock Holmes-style detective. (These characters appear in other books by the same authors.) A healthy field of minor characters are also three-dimensional. Settings are vivid and evocative. Dialogue flows naturally. And bonus -- I even learned a little about urban archaeology and the scientific/fantastical collections of the title.
Very well done. I'm anxious to read more from these authors and to read more about these characters. If you are interested in an intelligent thriller rooted in NYC history, you will probably enjoy this too. If you like Caleb Carr, Iain Pears or Jack Finney, you will likely appreciate this masterful and gripping mystery.
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