Author: Preston & Child
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Dark Mystery
Unique Elements: Super resourceful modern sleuth and brilliant protégé deal with dark and occult murders.
Series: Agent Pendergast series, #15
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Number of Pages: 340 pages
MSRP: $26.98 Hardcover/Audio ; $13.99 eBook
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Reviewed by: J.T. Hanke
Final Score: 5 Moons (out of 5)
After his near death experience a few months ago, agent Pendergast decides to take a smaller case–one that deals with a wine theft in the tiny town of Exmouth, Massachusetts.
However, shortly after arriving, the murder of a visiting writer in a darkly occult manner forces Pendergast and his exceptional ward, Constance, to explore Exmouth’s dark history involving rumors of mass murder, shipwrecks, and witchcraft.
After Pendergast’s less successful outing in a small town in White Fire, I was a little concerned with how things were going to go when he ventures back into yet another small town. However, to my vast relief, rather than feeling like a lackluster retread of my beloved Still Life With Crows (the first Pendergast in a small town story), this is a uniquely new tale that, while it has reflections of both Still Life with Crows and even White Fire, does so in a way that shows this is a true continuation of these stories. And, in fact, it actually emphasizes some elements in White Fire that make that book a more essential part of the Pendergast canon.
The ending is a cliffhanger that will leave fans of the series chomping at the bit and counting down until the next book in the series. (Many writers who do both single books and trilogies of books in a series tend to have trouble making their trilogies tight; however, I’ve always been very impressed with the Pendergast trilogies.)
The dynamics of Pendergast and a potential student in Corrie were some of the weaker points in White Fire, but in Blue Labyrinth, Pendergast resurges in a big way and Constance takes her role first as pupil, but then as protector.
This dynamic continues its fascinating progression in Crimson Shore. Pendergast returns to much of his Still Life With Crows wittiness, while Constance develops her own style. As they move into equality of power, they draw up to and begin to surpass Holmes and Watson–because their intellect is more equal. In some ways, they sort of resemble a gender swapped version of Moulder & Sculley from The X-Files.
Uncovering mysteries about the Salem Witch Trials, dark curses, lost covens, mass murder, body snatching, and a sinister cover up all put Crimson Shore squarely in the purview of our audience. The continuing empowerment and exploration of the complicated Constance, who manages to be a dazzling foil to the equally byzantine Pendergast continues the series rise within Gothic literature.
While I’ve said before I’d love to see a spinoff novel series featuring Constance, I am now convinced that they work better in the novels as a team.
With that said, Constance could be a solution to Gordian knot involving visual rights surrounding the Pendergast universe.
Due to their options for the film, Relic, based on the first novel in the Pendergast series, Paramount owns the film & television rights to all characters appearing in the original novel, despite the fact that they ended up deleting Pendergast from the film they made. Constance, however, and the estate she exists in debuted two books later in Cabinet of Curiosities, so both she and it would not be covered by those rights. As such, with some clever writing that would change Pendergast into her “nameless silver haired protector” and a focus on Constance, she would be fair game for an AMC or HBO series. (Of course, with the high production value and caliber of Daredevil and the noir-styled Jessica Jones, I’d love to see a Netflix series featuring Constance.)
Story: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Dynamics: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Gothic Fit: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Final Score (not an average): 5.0 Moons (out of 5)