the wheel of darkness by douglas preston and lincoln child

Posted on January 1, 2009


Pendergast takes a vacation.

wheel-of-darknessRecovering—or trying to—from recent encounters with his diabolically intelligent brother, the FBI special agent surely deserves a break. And a vacation is surely the time to loosen up , switch off the energy, maintain a more relaxed pace.

Unfortunately, for us readers, this is exactly what we get from Pendergast.. and the book.

Here’s the story:

An object of power is stolen from a remote Tibetan monastery. FBI special agent Pendergast and ward Constance Greene follow its bloody trail to a luxury ocean liner on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. But not only is a thief on board, a serial killer also is… and something else

People start dying in gruesome ways. Something goes wrong with the ship–and its captain. If the killer does not get them, the ocean will…

So again, we have the seemingly impregnable high-tech fortress; a menace that is as old as time; indifferent to modern technology and firepower; humanity’s panic and selfishness overwhelming all when terrified; and a few brave men who go down fighting no matter what.

On the surface, it promises the Pendergast fare we’ve come to love. But it delivered short. I felt bored a third into it.. and a little insulted. Is it just me? Or is the way the agent’s investigation going how he wants it to go a little too convenient for comfort?

Maybe, I’ve been spoiled by the almost unlimited servings of thrills and suspense in the previous books. Maybe the authors couldn’t help but run out of steam sometime. Maybe, I’d just been saturated with too much Pendergast—as I have been reading the series a book a day the past week.


Bottom-line is: I found this book dispirited, lacking Pendergast’s usual charm and sense of personal mystery. It lacks a certain snappiness in the way the characters are drawn out. It attempts to convince us of Pendergast’s persuasive prowess but just succeeds to make me think: how sloppy… how lazy everything all seems.

I know it’s about time we know more about the innermost vulnerabilities of the almost superhuman agent; I’m all for that. The latest installment in the series is like the intermission after the grand confrontation, an opportunity to tell the story of the man instead of his adventures. But there seemed to have been a cut thread somewhere—because I feel that the story-telling stumbled instead of taking up smoothly from where it last hung.

The feeling of disconnection between Pendergast of the previous volumes and that of the first half of WHEEL OF DARKNESS was too strong.

I’m a rather disappointed with this book. But I know that nothing is perfect. I also didn’t like BRIMSTONE that much. Overall, the Pendergast series is still a favorite.


Posted in: edge-of-my-seat