If there is one thing I like in a novel, it’s when it completely makes you forget your surroundings or causes you to lose track of time. That is one of the highest levels of praise a book can receive, and if it manages to do that in some way, it is usually because it was written by an author that is an expert. And is also very skilled in torture. Huh? Torture? Well yes of course. Don’t you just hate it when you decided to read one more chapter before turning to sleep and end up reading five more because you just have to find out what happened to a certain character? That you just can’t stop, because if you do you feel like your mind just can’t take it anymore? Hence the torture part. I had previously read two other novels by Preston and Childs, The Relic and Reliquary, and they both featured a character that some describe as a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I’m talking about FBI Special Agent Pendergast, but I honestly don’t really see him like that. But more on that below. This third Pendergast novel though, takes you on a relentless rollercoaster ride, that doesn’t let up until you reach the final page. Not that the previous two novels weren’t good or anything, but this one takes things to a whole other level of excitement.
The Cabinet of Curiosities starts off on a construction site in Manhattan where a ghastly discovery is made. A tunnel is unearthed that contains the mutilated bodies of 36 young people. All of the remains had parts of their spine remove. It is not before long that agent Pendergast arrives at the grissly scene together with Dr. Nora Kelly, an archeologist who works at the Museum of Natural History. She is very relucant at first to help him, as she finds the pale man a very strange and peculiar individual. Soon though her own curiosity gets the better of her, and she begins to try and discover the truth about what really happened. It soon becomes clear that all of the people have been murdered in a horrifying way almost 130 years ago. What the exact motive was of the killer is at first unclear. But the case becomes even more terrifying when it seems that the murders are starting up again. This has to be a copycat killer though right? With the police and the mayor trying to thwart Pendergast at every turn because of ulterior motives, it becomes increasingly more difficult for him and Kelly to solve the case. In the meantime the killings continue…..
This was a book that I would like to call a real pageturner. It’s been quite a while since I have read a novel that had me gasping for breath at almost every page. But this one managed to achieve that, and then some. The writing style of Preston & Child is terrific. They manage to describe their scenes in a very vivid way, and crank up the tension to an almost unbearable level. Which is exactly how I like my books. No matter how great your story is, if you have characters that you don’t care about in any way, you will probably lose your audience. But the writer duo has you covered there as well, as it contains quite a number of indivuals that you will grow to love (as well as hate, for a few of them are pretty despicable indeed). But it’s agent Pendergast that is the driving force of this book, more so than in the previous installments. I’d like to think of him as kind of mix between Indiana Jones and Jack Bauer. He is mysterious, resourceful, tough as nails, while at the same time he has a very big heart that people might not notice right away.
If I were to name some negative points to this books, it’s the use of quite a number of pretty difficult medical and forensic terms. My grasp of the English language is quite good, but there were a few times where I struggled to understand the meaning of certain terms. But luckily this never managed to put me off in any way, as the story is just too good for that. This novel can be read without having knowledge of the events of the earlier two books, although you will probably enjoy it even more if you have read those. If you like tense and gripping thrillers about serial killers, with a slightly supernatural edge to it, this is one book you should check out ASAP. It’s guaranteed to cause you some sleepless nights (in fact I dare you not to complete this one in one day: it really is that good). In closing I would like to dedicate this review to the wonderful Kim. She is truly an amazing individual who is someone that has always managed to inspire me with the posts she writes. Kind, positive and always there for other people are some of the qualities that describe her best. Go and check out her wonderful blog about the world of the written word. I promise you won’t regret doing so. As always, thank you for reading.
I give The Cabinet of Curiosities a 9 out of 10 score.