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by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Warner Books, January 2006
592 pages
ISBN: 0446617091

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After NYPD Lt Vincent D'Agosta's last adventure, which resulted in the death of his friend Special FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast, D'Agosta has settled down on his job and has moved in with his love, NYPD Captain Laura Hayward. He's working on the case of a thief who is also an exhibitionist that has grabbed the media's attention.

Then he discovers that his late friend has left him instructions to solve a case of greatest importance. It seems that Pendergast's brother Diogenes, who was thought dead by the world, is really alive. He is an evil genius who has warned Pendergast that he will perform a horrible deed, a perfect crime, on January 28.

In order to work the case, Pendergast has left D'Agosta half a million dollars and is instructed to take a leave from the NYPD. In the memory of his friend D'Agosta obliges. But he finds the going on the case slow and can't find much to work on.

Suddenly one day, the new doorman of his building waylays him to the basement. To his astonishment he discovers his friend, genius and master of disguises Special FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast escaped death and is still alive. Pendergast has come out of hiding because he's learned that Diogenes has started killing people who are important to Pendergast. They must find him and stop his murderous plans.

DANCE OF DEATH is the second in a trilogy dealing with Pendergast and D'Agosta, but it looks as if the authors, Preston and Child have created their own cast of characters who inhabit most of their books. In this world we also find journalist and writer Bill Smithback, museum editor Margo Green and museum curator Nora Kelly who all seemed to have had their adventures in previous novels. These three have more to do with a secondary plot that involves the Museum Of Natural History and a heist that Diogenes has been working on for decades.

An exciting, over the top melodramatic romp, DANCE OF DEATH has less to do with reality and more in common with light, action-packed adventure films. There's the requisite mad genius who seems to know all and sees all, who can capture anyone at will, disappear from locked rooms, is the master of disguise, and who has the ability to take anyone's place when he deems necessary with no one the wiser.

Unfortunately the ploy of killing off important lead character, only to then revel they are still alive is used a lot in DANCE OF DEATH. That tends to take all of the sting from the occurrence, so the emotional impact of death is gone for the rest of the tale. And when it happens three times in one section of a trilogy, I doubt if any of the main characters will be able to be believably and finally murdered without the readers expecting them to pop up again.

DANCE OF DEATH isn't a stand-alone book. This second installment mentions the previous book in every chapter, so the readers can't help but feel they have walked in the middle of a story. And DANCE OF DEATH's last page doesn't end anything. The chapter simply finishes and the readers are surprised to find that there are no more pages to read.

For lovers of high drama, suspense and action packed scenes that take you from the unknown caves beneath New York City to the barred upper rooms of isolated prisons for the criminally insane, DANCE OF DEATH and its sister books are for you!

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, January 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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