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- Ever since RELIC, the team of Preston and Child has created some of the best horror fiction of the genre, and BRIMSTONE continues their string of successes. Their main character, the mysterious FBI Agent Pendergast, is fascinating in his development. Although reader Rene Auberjonois is masterful at bringing a number of characters to life with his voice, he is especially adept when speaking in Pendergast's honeyed Southern accent. The story deals with the horrible deaths of three men, deaths that seem to have been caused by spontaneous combustion. Together with Detective Vincent d'Agosta, Pendergast follows a trail of deceptive clues that lead them to the conclusion that Satan is responsible for the murders. Only the skills of Preston and Child could tie together a Stradivarius violin, a Chinese ballistic missile, and a remote Italian villa to create a chilling, suspenseful thriller. J.L.C. 2005 Audie Award Finalist (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
Starred review from July 5, 2004
Fans of cerebral action adventure novels know that, outside of Michael Crichton, no one delivers the goods like the veteran writing team of Preston and Child (Relic
; Still Life with Crows
; etc.). As if invigorated by their recent solo efforts (Child: Utopia
, etc.; Preston: The Codex
, etc.), the two now deliver their best novel ever, an extravagant tale of international intrigue. As their admirers know, one reason Preston and Child thrillers work is because most feature arguably the most charismatic detective in contemporary fiction: FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, a wealthy, refined yet ruthless descendant of Holmes who's very much his own character. Pendergast, as well as other Preston and Child semiregulars, notably rough-hewn former NYPD cop Vincent D'Agosta, Watson to Pendergast's Sherlock, tread nearly every page of this vastly imagined, relentlessly enjoyable thriller. The body of a notorious art critic is found in his Hamptons, L.I., mansion, wholly burned, with a cloven hoofprint nearby: the devil's work? Similar killings ensue among a group of maleficent bigwigs who, as college students, once gathered in Florence for a mysterious reason. Also at that gathering was the charming yet sinister Italian Count Fosco, a wonderful character whom the authors have borrowed, with due credit, from Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White
. In time Agent Pendergast ties Fosco into the killings, as well as a plot to equip the Chinese with devastating weapons and a parallel plot to recover a legendary Stradivarius violin. Erudite, swiftly paced, brimming (occasionally overbrimming) with memorable personae and tense set pieces, this is the perfect thriller to stuff into a beach bag.
- A burned corpse in a locked room, the overwhelming odor of brimstone, and a cloven hoof-print seared into the floor--all point to the supernatural. Then a second murder with the same MO has Agent Pendergast and sidekick Vincent D'Agosta wondering whether they're involved in a case of satanic retribution. Narrator Scott Brick uses his somber baritone with terrifying subtlety. Brick positively shines as an assortment of villainous suspects on both sides of the Atlantic, and when the investigation moves to Italy, he manages a reasonable Italian accent. As Faustian melodramas go, this one staggers under the weight of gruesome descriptions of death and an excess of hellfire. Even so, Scott Brick's performance infuses Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's thriller with chilling believability. S.J.H. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine
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