Archive for February 2008
i have been wondering at how fond preston and child are of subterranean basements. in the CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, dozens of bodies are found underneath a tenement building in new york. other structures have mysterious depths: a library, museum, river-side mansion, pendergast’s old home in new orleans..
maybe, they do it because it represents the unknown. in RELIC, there was the sub-basements of the natural history museum, nest of a prehistoric creature for years. and we, especially horror-aficionados, know how fear of the unknown is the worst of all fears.
here, I’m afraid the ground crumbles beneath our feet—just as it did for pendergast. knowledge proven false is more horrifying and dangerous apparently. terrifyingly self-confident and capable pendergast comes face to face with this peculiar turn-about. almost, the day, rather the night, ended forever for him and his comrades because he realized too late that the darkest mystery is unfathomable.
all of us have a set of beliefs, memories, and experiences that serves as the foundation of our lives. but what if that foundation crumbles and opens up into the darkest hole crawling with ancient terrors? what if we have not been safe all this time because the monsters have been living with us, just a floor-thick away, all along? that it’s just a matter of time before it reaches up?
we never truly walk on solid ground.
i loved it because i liked the idea of ancient structures with secret tunnels and a monster roaming underneath, surfacing every now and then for a quick kill. the suspense was exquisitely paced, the ending elegant, like Pendergast, our mysterious FBI special agent. we get little from him and about him but it just hooks us into wanting more of him. the Pendergast series is hard to classify, though. RELIC is definitely a bio-thriller but the overall theme of the series seems to flirt with the supernatural–the monsters that go bump in the night and our fear of them, about ancient mysteries coming to light and manifesting as a series of murders. eventually, science comes glaring in but leaves dark spots behind.
set in eternal Rome, the question here is: is the Dionysian cult that used to abduct youths, sexually abuse them, and then throw the bodies into bogs for centuries responsible for another murder?
can’t say, because I’d be spoiling your fun. i assure you though, the plot is dark enough to suck you in but not too murky to spoil your pleasure. in fact, it’s clear enough that we get an intriguing look at the roman police way of handling crime.
too tame for my taste, has a good family man with a fondness for good food as detective and female-hacker moonlighting as police secretary as sidekick, with undertones of government corruption. the writing was good but i was bored by it.
set in post wwi england, about another serial killer sexually abused by mom as a child now into relieving his only experience of sexual gratification (with mom) through murder.
interesting lead characters: a brooding scottland yard detective and assertive lady doctor. not interesting villain. interesting writing. interested to read more of airth, to see if his darkness darkens.
10th in a series of 15 or 16 volumes–still counting, very likely (aaargh!), it’s about an archaeologist couple with a growing family coping with one Egyptian mystery after another. there’s romance, a master criminal with dark designs on the heroine, crocodiles, tombs, curses, and characters that begin off as aloof but grow on you. in this volume, a spurned woman is indeed the worst enemy there is.