Reading The Book Of The Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child without having read Brimstone and Dance Of The Dead is pretty much like catching the last thirty minutes of a movie: you do not quite know who is who, you have no idea of the back-story that lead to this moment.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's The Book Of The Dead is a bit like The Count Of Monte Cristo meets The Mummy. While good brother and FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast rots in prison, the Count Of Monte Cristo bit, his evil brother Diogenes Pendergast is up to his old tricks under a new identity and killing or driving a few folks insane on the side. This thriller more than mystery is set in the New York Museum of Natural History before the gala re-opening of the Tom of Senef, a stone-by-stone reconstructed Egyptian archeological wonder that has been sealed off in the museum's catacombs since 1935. This is The Mummy bit. There are a few other dark arts references here and there that also give this thriller a bit of a gothic feel sometimes.
There has been a trend these last few years in the mystery novel or thriller for the superman evil guy who shows up for a few books that has always somewhat annoyed me: Diogenes Pendergast has the uncanny ability to enter sealed rooms without making a sound and come and go as he pleases all over the place and this is somewhat unbelievable. The bits about planning for the escape of the good Pendergast from a prison no one has escaped from before are definitely neat if a bit cinematic. This, by the way, is the weak element of The Book Of The Dead: it is a very cinematic book that reads as if Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child had written this novel with specific actors in mind for many of the parts. This is also a very cast heavy book and keeping track of everybody, especially when you are unfamiliar with the crew, is a bit of a challenge.
Still, The Book Of The Dead manages to make things fairly interesting, especially considering this reader started off without the foreknowledge necessary to fully enjoy this thriller. There are a few clunkers here and there, such as an educated, female police captain in her very early forties saying, "Get her on the horn, please." (p. 127) and the book does plod along a bit sometimes but nothing skipping a few lines here and there can't fix. The heebie-jeebies usually associated with old Egyptian stuff are used to good if uncreative effect. The last few chapters of this thriller / mystery definitely roar along at a good clip. These are not chapters you want to start reading before bedtime as bedtime will be pushed back and back and back.
The Book Of The Dead is a pretty decent thriller that is probably a lot better if you have read its predecessors, Brimstone and Dance Of The Dead.
Other Douglas Preston Lincoln Child Reviews
Fever Dream - A Pendergast mystery: Very good thriller, less weird than the usual Preston & Child novel
The Wheel of Darkness: Agent Pendergast thriller / mystery novel. Good stuff.
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.