The Wheel of Darkness is the latest (2007) thriller mystery novel featuring multi-talented special agent Aloysius Pendergast. This time around, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have Pendergast's protégé Constance Greene more than tagging along for the rather strange, well-written, interesting ride. The Pendergast series and The Wheel of Darkness are a bit off the beaten path mystery novel or thriller wise but well worth looking into if you are not familiar with the series.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child probably had a lot of fun putting The Wheel of Darkness together. There is a nod to just about every type of mystery novel out there: the locked room from which something was stolen, an ocean liner version of Murder on the Orient Express, an obvious nod to the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes series when Pendergast actually says, "The game is afoot!", a reference to James Bond and his Walther PPK, and a bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark as Pendergast and Greene are trying to find a Buddhist Arch of the Covenant style box. Last, but not least, there is a surreal horror novel aspect here. In many other hands all this and a few more elements that would spoil the surprise if revealed would be a mess but Preston and Child make it work and convincingly so.
I am normally quite allergic to a mystery novel that features more than a dozen secondary characters you have to keep track of and The Wheel Of Darkness is one of those. In this case, however, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child manage to keep everybody fairly distinctive and knock off a few as the novel moves along so keeping track of who's who is not that much of a chore.
One thing though about The Wheel of Darkness that annoys this reader is the book is plain old ugly. This, and the fact there is nothing on the fly leaves or the back of the book that really indicates what this mystery is all about -well, there is a bit of a blurb on one of the fly leaves but nothing enticing, really-makes me suspect someone browsing through a mystery book store looking for a good read will probably end up passing on an otherwise excellent mystery and series.
Just to be really difficult: there is a continuity mistake in the first chapter. The two characters are said to dismount and lead their horses by the bridle because the path is too narrow but they dismount, again, when they arrive at the temple.
Other Douglas Preston Lincoln Child Reviews
The Book Of The Dead: Good thriller, better if you have read the first two books in the series.
Fever Dream - A Pendergast mystery: Very good thriller, less weird than the usual Preston & Child novel
The Monster of Florence: Superb investigative novel of a real life serial killer.
Cemetery Dance - A Pendergast Mystery: The zombi did it in this lesser Pendergast mystery novel.
Gideon s Sword: Very good first thriller in new Preston Child series
Cold Vengeance - A Pendergast Novel: Perhaps reading the recommended Fever Dream first would help, but this reader is not convinced.
The Third Gate - Lincoln Child: Curse of the mummy yet again.
White Fire - A Pendergast novel: thirteenth in the series. Can be read separately.Very good.
Crimson Shore - A Pendergast Novel: Cask of Amontillado meets Hounds of the Baskerville and Salem witch trials in entertaining fifteenth Pendergast novel.
The Obsidian Chamber - A Pendergast Mystery: Descriptive and very well written, The Obsidian Chamber contains everything you would want in an engaging novel: Adventure, excitement, suspense, love, lust and rivalry, set against a backdrop of mystery and an intriguing premise about life.