Corrie Swanson, currently a junior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has been searching for a killer theme for her thesis. After several dismal failures, she hits upon an idea that she believes will win over her constantly disapproving advisor. A century and a half ago, the story goes, a number of miners were brutally attacked and killed near a now-fashionable ski resort called Roaring Fork. Eyewitnesses at the time claimed to have seen a grizzly bear eating the men. Or at least that’s what Oscar Wilde related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over a posh London dinner shortly after the deaths, according to Doyle’s journal.
Finally, Corrie has a solid direction. Studying to become a criminal pathologist, she wants to examine the bones for their bite marks. That’s an area of forensics that hasn’t seen much attention. What a coup if she can pull this off! The Christmas break arrives, and she rushes across the country to start her research.
"Fans of Sherlock Holmes will devour Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s latest thriller, not only because of its connection to Conan Doyle, but because Pendergast bears a striking resemblance to the iconic detective, and has powers as eerily uncanny as Sherlock’s."
Initially, on her first day in Roaring Fork, Corrie feels a warm welcome from the police chief. Inexplicably, however, his mood changes overnight. She is beyond puzzled. Why the cold shoulder? Fortunately, before the sudden shift in attitude, Corrie had a chance to take a quick look at the bones. Even though access is now being denied, she thinks she saw something disturbing, and no mere padlock is going to keep her from confirming her theory. Sometimes, Corrie needs to use her head. This is one of those times. Her rash disregard for the law gets her into a heap of trouble.
FBI Agent A.X.L. Pendergast comes to his protégé’s rescue. He has a special fondness for the young woman. But Corrie is less than grateful, jealously guarding her project and her privacy. She bulls ahead with little thought of potential consequences. The subject is simply too tempting to give up on, maybe even good enough to catapult her to award-winning heights at John Jay, for she has an inkling that there is far more to this than anyone ever thought, including those two famous authors having a long-ago conversation.
“Consider for a moment: what if Wilde heard the real story and told it to Doyle? And what if Doyle found it too disturbing to put in his diary? What if Doyle instead concealed some of that information in THE HOUND?”
While Corrie is busy following up leads and reading town history, a serial arsonist starts terrorizing Roaring Fork. Whoever is burning mansions up in The Heights is making sure the families are locked inside. As gruesome as that sounds, it doesn’t seem to be related to Corrie’s work. Or is it? Besides, she’s racing against time. An approaching storm is pushing her to pick up the pace, as is Pendergast’s insistence that she go back home. She has stirred up emotions in this little town, and he believes it is far too dangerous for her to stay.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will devour Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s latest thriller, not only because of its connection to Conan Doyle, but because Pendergast bears a striking resemblance to the iconic detective, and has powers as eerily uncanny as Sherlock’s. Readers will race toward the final page and, once there, will thirst for more.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on November 22, 2013