Cold Vengeance
Preston & Child
Grand Central Publishing 2011

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, independent and co-authors of many thrillers and mystery novels, have put together Cold Vengeance, the latest in the Pendergast series.  This time, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is out to avenge the murder of his beloved wife Helen.

Beginning with captivating writing of a heart-pounding manhunt and murder in the deep and mysterious Scottish moors, we are primed for a top notch thriller.  During an intense battle between Pendergast and his equally ruthless and dangerous adversary Dr. Judson Esterhazy comes the stunning revelation that Helen is still alive.  Is it the truth of a man marked by death or a final torturous deception?  Pendergast is driven into hiding to tenaciously pursue the facts, without realizing that he will discover the unthinkable.

Characters are strong, interesting, and often frightening. Rife with mystery, Cold Vengeance contains great action and adventure, and  wonderfully vivid descriptions which grab from the outset.. However, the inclusion of a crazy woman in a mental institution, the homicide of a seemingly innocent couple who reappeared after being missing for years, a small town journalist looking for a big story, a covert organization, a burned out laboratory, and more, succeeds only in splitting the book into too many, albeit eventually connected directions.  Although intriguing, the resulting complexity becomes confusing and difficult to follow, and the story becomes more and more strange.

Likewise, certain subject matter has been done to death, and is therefore hard to view with fresh excitement.

To quote a character:  “The whole thing went awry…too complicated to explain now.”  Guess what.  Preston and Child don’t explain.  Not nearly enough questions are answered.  Without resolution and closure, this reader–who has enjoyed their previous books—is left still confused, disappointed, and decidedly unsatisfied.

So, if you plan to read Cold Vengeance, maybe wait a while. Unless there’s an information-packed sequel, you may feel the same.  Perhaps reading the recommended Fever Dream first would help, but this reader is not convinced.