dynamic duo has done it again.
In THE WHEEL OF DARKNESS, their eighth supernatural thriller,
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child give us another fast-paced,
riveting mystery featuring the seemingly unflappable Special Agent
Aloysius Pendergast and his young ward Constance Greene, and the
elements of the unknown.
The book picks up in the aftermath of THE BOOK OF THE DEAD, with
Constance recovering, we suspect, from an aborted pregnancy (the
father: Pendergast's villainous younger brother). Constance and the
good agent seek solace and solitude through escape. They are drawn
to Gsalrig Chongg, a monastery in Tibet, where women historically
have not been accepted as students. Recognizing something special
about Constance, she becomes the exception to the rule and is
welcome by the brotherhood. (Her name, it turns out, translates to
"Green Tara," the moniker of the mother of all Buddhas. This
revelation forecasts something big to come.)
It is, of course, no coincidence that the stoic agent and his frail
ward end up amongst the monks. Instead of moving past the tragedy
they had just survived, they find themselves drawn into yet another
puzzling and harrowing mystery.
The monks' sacred trust for generations --- the Agozyen --- has
been discovered missing during an annual ritual. Guarded daily and
accessible by only a single key, its disappearance is
mind-boggling. And terrifying. The treasure holds a deadly secret
akin to Pandora's box being opened.
The trail of minimal clues leads to Jordan Ambrose, an American
rescued and nursed back to health at the monastery when he
appeared, half-dead, on the Nepalese border mountain range. Unable
to describe the never-seen icon, the monks dispatch Pendergast to
bring it back, warning that it is powerful if released and not to
be reckoned with.
What ensues is pure Preston-Child magic. The maiden voyage of a
transatlantic cruise ship is the terrifying setting of the search
for the relic. And what could be more frightening than a
claustrophobic ship, with its over-arching sense of being trapped
in the middle of the ocean with an unknown, undefinable force
preying on and menacing the entire crew and guests? Bodies are
reduced to mush, others disappear whole-cloth. Panic sets in,
mutiny is threatened and control of the ship is lost, all while
Pendergast sets about his methodical unraveling of the mystery of
the Agozyen and its all-encompassing powers.
THE WHEEL OF DARKNESS has the classic clash of good versus evil,
the inescapable comparison of East versus West, and the
unanswerable questions of coincidence versus fate. A surprise at
the end will surely delight all fans of Pendergast and Greene,
Preston and Child, and will leave us asking ourselves "What's
next?" Surely, there has to be more from these two master
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 24, 2011