Still Life With Crows
Reviewed: April 30, 2007
By: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Publisher: Warner Books
592 pages, $10.99
Still Life with Crows appears to be an interlude in the continuing adventures of Special
Agent Pendergast, who last appeared in The Cabinet of Curiosities and whose
adventures seem to adding up to something significant having to do with his
own family history. The current book has no connection to that larger saga,
except for a tiny bit of subplot which seems intended to remind us to stay
In truth, this is a much simpler tale
than anything the agent has been involved in so far, and it really only his
idiosyncratic presence that lifts it above potboiler status. After all, we’ve
been here before: isolated town, strange ritualistic deaths, alienated teenage
girl, suspicious but well-meaning sheriff, hints of some sort of cult, or
perhaps a monster, deadly caves.
Into all of this strolls Pendergast,
apparently on leave from his rather odd position with the FBI. We know that
Pendergast comes from Southern wealth, that he takes the odd cases, that he’s
Fox Mulder with a fashion sense and a touch of Sherlock Holmes, that he solves
crimes using a kind of psychic virtual reality exercise, kind of like what
Jordan and her father used to do before the retired police officer turned
publican role got written out of Crossing Jordan.
He enlists the aid of the alienated
teen, and begins an investigation which soon has the local sheriff as puzzled
as we are, and looking to shut the agent down. More murders and mysterious
events make it more important than ever that Pendergast stay on the case,
but that becomes more and more difficult.
Misled by their own inability to account
for the unusual, the police stage a disastrous raid into a labyrinth of caves
in search of an escaped convict they believe to be the culprit. I won’t say
more about. Suffice it to say that there more action in those caves than there
was when Tom Sawyer got lost while fleeing Injun Joe.
The one thing missing from this caper
was a reason for the murderer to be doing what he was doing, and that emerges
as almost a joke at the end of the book after the main action has been wrapped
up. I saw it coming just slightly before it became clear and I almost couldn’t
believe it. It was so bizarre it was perfect.
My guess is that the girl from this
book is going to turn up later on, and that perhaps the sole reason for this
detour was to introduce her into the continuing cast of characters. We shall