Click here to read reviewer Rashmi Srinivas' take on Brimstone.
Superstition preys on the minds of logical people, especially when the ultimate evil is invoked: the devil. When Jeremy Grove is found in his bed, his corpse burned from the inside out, a cloven hoof etched into the carpet at the foot of the bed, the public is both shocked and curious. But when there is a second death, reeking of a similar origin, fascination turns to fear.
FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast is surprised at the scene of the Grove's death in Southampton to see Vincent D'Agosta, who worked two cases with him in New York. D'Agosta is now a Sergeant for the Southampton Police department after a couple of years devoted to writing crime novels. D'Agosta's police training renders him overqualified for his current position, and Pendergast requests the former New Yorker be assigned as liaison to the FBI.
When the action shifts to a second, equally gruesome murder in New York, Pendergast and D’Agosta make the rounds of possible suspects, all of whom are well-heeled and have plenty of skeletons lurking in their closets. The suspects include Lady Milbanke, a poisonous gossip, connoisseur of absinthe and tireless séance organizer; Maurice Vilnius, an abstract impressionist Grove declared as untalented as to be considered brave by painting at all; the obese Count Fosco with a family villa in Tuscany; and Jonathan Frederick, art critic for Art & Antiques Magazine.
D'Agosta follows the urbane FBI agent from New York to Florence, Italy, on the trail of another sinister suspect up to a bit of corporate espionage, at the very least, but certainly involved with the two murders. After the third incendiary death, our heroes pursue the stone killer through a series of labyrinthine booby traps, barely escaping some truly creative devices. D’Agosta has no choice but to back up the intrepid Pendergast, in a truly Machiavellian conspiracy, although he is nurturing a romantic liaison back in New York.
Brimstone is characterized by a Byzantine plot that points to murders of a most unnatural origin, reeking of evil intentions and the blackened souls of devotees of the netherworld. Logic fails as the authors mix and match a variety of bizarre characters, from the super-rich and powerful to the fanatical disciples who believe the Rapture is imminent, from learned professors of the supernatural to Biblical verses of doom, frantic policemen from New York to Florence, the esoteric and the anecdotal, all in a fine stew of “what if”.
The plot comes full circle, from the first death to the final one, all wrought through a convoluted series of events, from a Messianic reverend to Satan worshipers, ageing monks and foreign assassins, all pursued by Pendergast with his usual aplomb, D’Agosta his faithful shadow. Pendergast pushes the envelope one more time, dipping into a mélange of fire and brimstone in a fast-paced, if exotic adventure in another world.