Cons:But a fairly dull book with lazy writing and unanswered questions
The Bottom Line: It doesn't work as a stand-alone novel. But if you're a fan of the authors, or of Agent Pendergast, you might want to give the trilogy a try.
Cold Vengeance is the second book in a Pendergast trilogy by authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. What’s a Pendergast trilogy? Well, a series of books featuring the very smart, very talented, but very creepy Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast.
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In this series of books, Pendergast is attempting to solve the mystery of his wife’s murder a decade before. Or was she murdered? That’s really the mystery in this installment of the series. Because at the very beginning of the book, Pendergast hears from a source who should be very reliable that his wife, Helen, isn’t really dead. Her “death” was a ruse designed to protect her, and everyone she loved. But before Pendergast can get more details, the source is gone.
What’s a guy to do? Well, if you’re Pendergast you won’t rest until you find out the truth. You’ll run all over the world, turning over stones that some very powerful people would prefer you leave alone. And, of course, you will exhume the body and seek answers through that means. But what if all clues point you to the same conclusion - that your wife really is dead, and yet you just don’t believe it? That’s the frustrating situation our hero finds himself in, in Cold Vengeance.
The premise is fine, and I was certainly intrigued by the story.
However, let me remind you that this is the second book in a series. I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the first book prior to this one - I didn’t read it, and I was able to follow this book just fine. But if you want answers to most of the questions raised in this book, you will have to read the next one. The reader will be given some answers, and a few clues to the “whole story” but much of the story remains a mystery as you read the final paragraphs.
As for me, I’m in no rush to read the next book “Two Graves”. I’ll read it if and when I get to it. It’s not that I’ll avoid it, just that I don’t feel a need to rush out and buy it. Why? Because by the end of Cold Vengeance I found I just didn’t much care, anymore. I was bored. The book’s dry language, extreme violence, and drawn out chase sequences left me with a giant “who cares?” by the end.
Part of the problem was the story’s reliance on coincidence and the ability to predict one’s behavior. It stretched believability far too thin, for my taste. In particular there are two places where someone’s entire plan relies on “knowing” exactly how someone will react, when placed in a situation. There was no “Plan B” in case the person doesn’t react as expected, however, it turned out not to matter because the characters did exactly as predicted. This type of writing is lazy and makes a book less enjoyable for me. Let’s face it, in real life, this type of thing would never fly. The person would never do what you expect, and your plan would fall apart.
Overall, if you’re a Pendergast fan, you’ll probably enjoy this series. But as a stand-alone book Cold Vengeance isn’t the best. And if you like all of your questions answered, and don’t want to read two books, then you’d be best off to skip it.