Sunday, June 5, 2016

Crimson Shore

by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
337 pgs  (Pendergast series #15)

Agent Pendergast and his enigmatic "ward" Constance Green are summoned to a small coastal Massachusetts town by sculptor Percival Lake to investigate the theft of his valuable wine collection. While investigating, Pendergast  and Constance discover the skeleton of a man who had been walled up in Percival's wine cellar alive more than 150 years ago. They learn that the man had been a crew member aboard a ship carrying the Pride of Africa, a collection of flawless rubies. Back in the 1880s the townspeople had extinguished the lighthouse, confusing the ships crew, and causing it to wreck along the rocky shore. They then stole the rubies and committed atrocities that have shadowed the town ever since.

Pendergast's investigation into both crimes takes a disturbing turn when the bodies of two fresh murder victims turn up, with strange symbols carved into the skin of each body.

From there the story takes several bizarre and, unfortunately, ridiculous twists and turns. I think Preston and Child have lost sense of how much reason their readers want to suspend. I like a good thriller with a supernatural element, and Preston and Child have definitely written some good ones, but this one felt like they lost a bet to someone. There were elements to the story that had me shaking my head and rolling my eyes, and I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt with that surprise ending. Hopefully they thought that through completely and they haven't "jumped the shark." Otherwise, I'm afraid they've lost their way.

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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