Category Archives: Thriller

Coronation by Lee F. Jordan

From time to time I find a story that is damned good, but the writing of that story isn’t at the same level. I’m afraid that was the case with Lee F. Jordan’s Coronation (2012).

An ancient evil (that’s not all that ancient), nautical themes that do make sense (but corrupt the legends of their subjects), and a mysterious ability that just isn’t really explained. Like I said, the story was pretty damned good and could have gone places, different places than it did go.

J.D. is a semi-retired special officer with the United States Navy. He has this thing that happens when he’s in danger, or someone he is close to is in danger. His nose bleeds. Okay. Why? What’s the cause? Just a couple of the questions left unanswered. It almost reads like this isn’t the first book in a series. It is not Jordan’s first book.

Ok, I can move beyond those unanswered questions. The suspense, the thrill, the horror. Those were done rather well. Jordan’s descriptions of mutilated bodies were very graphic. They didn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination, but that may have been his point. Sometimes the more graphic a description the better the horrified reaction from the reader. Personally I like to be able to draw in some of the details myself. But I do understand where Jordan was going with those descriptions. To tell you would be a spoiler.

Along with the blood and guts and the unanswered questions, there is a theme of military and government intrigue that strikes a chord for today’s reader. Does the government really have an “X-Files” unit in the Navy? If so, is the Navy the only military branch with such a unit? More unanswered questions, but maybe Jordan will write something else that will explore both this mysterious unit and J.D.’s nose bleeds.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I am sure that fans of conspiracy theories, the exploration of evil in humanity, and the horror genre will enjoy this book. All in all, I did enjoy it. I was disappointed in the unanswered questions.

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Agent Pendergast: Cold Vengence

The second in the trilogy about Agent Pendergast’s wife Helen, Cold Vengeance takes the reader on a whirlwind journey from the moors of Scotland to the humid bayous of Louisiana¬†and the dregs of the interwebs. Fever Dream introduced us to the idea that Helen’s death was anything but an accident. Cold Vengeance starts to unravel the conspiracy in detail. With hints of genetic manipulation, secret societies, and a plan to take dominion of the human race the reader will be hanging on each word wanting for more.

Preston and Child take advantage of characters introduced in earlier books to thicken the plot. Corrie Swanson continues her independent investigations, even with Pendergast firmly telling her not to get involved. His own ward, Constance Greene, becomes a central figure in this chapter of the drama. Of course Lt. Vincent D’Agosta and Cpt. Laura Hayward continue their roles as Pendergast’s willing, and unwilling, partners in his quest for the truth.

I’ve always enjoyed reading mystery and suspense. Preston and Child seem to have a unique flair for both. I’ve read solo works from both authors and haven’t been disappointed yet. Between the two of them they add an element of almost the paranormal (sometimes without the “almost”) with the complications of the modern world. With characters from across the social and political divides, these two authors can capture the imagination and make you think about the implications of what some of those very same characters are willing to do to get to where they are or where they want to be in life. Some who have not read them may be familiar with the movie version of Relic, you have to read their books to truly appreciate what Relic brought to the screen.

From the official website of Preston & Child:

Nothing is what it seems…

Devastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple.

As he stalks his wife’s betrayers-a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York City and the darkest bayous of Louisiana-he is also forced to dig further into Helen’s past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder.

Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined-and everything he’s believed, everything he’s trusted, everything he’s understood . . . may be a horrific lie.

Check back soon for my review of the third and final installment of the Helen trilogy – Two Graves.

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Agent Pendergast: Fever Dream

Click to find links to purchase the book online, multiple internet retailers available.

Preston & Child’s 10th Special Agent Pendergast novel, Fever Dream, is the first of a trilogy about the agent’s long-lost wife, Helen, who was slain by a lion while they were on safari in Africa.

Special Agent Aloysius X. L. Pendergast became a hit with movie goers after the novel Relic was made into a major motion picture. That was my first exposure to the character and to the authors. Since then I’ve been reading their books as I get the time. The 10th installment in Pendergast’s saga is no disappointment.

From the authors’ website: “At the old family manse in Louisiana, Special Agent Pendergast is putting to rest long-ignored possessions reminiscent of his wife Helen’s tragic death, only to make a stunning-and dreadful-discovery.

“Helen had been mauled by an unusually large and vicious lion while they were big game hunting in Africa. But now, Pendergast learns that her rifle-her only protection from the beast-had been deliberately loaded with blanks. Who could have wanted Helen dead…and why?

“With Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta’s assistance, Pendergast embarks on a quest to uncover the mystery of his wife’s murder. It is a journey that sends him deep into her past, where he learns much that Helen herself had wished to keep hidden.

“Helen Pendergast had nursed a secret obsession with the famed naturalist-painter John James Audubon, in particular a long-lost painting of his known as the Black Frame.

As Pendergast probes more deeply into the riddle-the answer to which is revealed in a night of shocking violence, deep in the Louisiana bayou-he finds himself faced with an even greater question: who was the woman he married?”

Whether the reader has seen Relic or read any of the other Pendergast novels, this stand alone trilogy will grip fans off suspense, thriller, and mystery alike. Pendergast seems to be an anachronism in the FBI, let alone in modern society. Fond of dark suits, paired with his pale skin, he looks to be either an undertaker or an eccentric Southern gentleman. This impression is furthered by his preference for driving his classic Rolls Royce. His unique psyche and understanding of the criminal  mind leaves the impression that he himself might be a sociopath. His obsession for detail and penchant for eliminating his perps rather than bringing them to justice just might make him a psychopath with an FBI badge and gun.

Fever Dream, taken as it is, reads well enough. Preston and Child give enough background on their characters to make it easy for a new reader to follow along without wondering where this little tidbit or that hint of something from another case came from. The book also brings in that element of love that is often missing from hard crime novels. Pendergast loved his wife, and still does, but he’s learning as the story unfolds that the woman he loved and the woman Helen was might not be the same person. With hints of psychodrama (and mental illness) threaded through the story, fans of psychological thrillers just might find the trilogy worth picking up. Audubon being at the center of the investigation and the mystery of who Helen was will be of interest to the Naturist and the art lover. Elements of medical mystery combines with other twists and turns definitely kept this reader flipping pages to get to the end.

And of course I am already reading book two in the Helen trilogy of the Pendergast series with book three sitting on my to-be-read shelf.

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