Hardly has Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta’s life returned to normal after the frightening misadventure (Brimstone) that led to the death of his friend and FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast, when it is turned topsy-turvy once again. Pendergast is back from the dead, and so is his twisted brother, Diogenes, who is at last ready to fulfill his promised revenge on the brother he hates by inventively killing people close to Aloysius, all culminating in a date that is just a week ahead.
Pendergast and D’Agosta race against time to locate this diabolical killer while making frantic attempts to identify and, if possible, rescue the next victim even as the body count rises. Meanwhile, in what seems like a separate subplot, the Museum of Natural History is embroiled in a controversy involving ancient Kiva masks. It is only toward the end of the book that readers come to understand how vital this issue is to the central mystery. Can Pendergast stop his nemesis before everybody close to him, including D’Agosta, is killed?
A breathless pace of action, tons of suspense and some well-placed matters of the heart ensure readers won’t be (much) disappointed in this latest Pendergast adventure. While not as erudite or incredibly mysterious as some of Preston and Child’s previous works, this story employs just enough mental hijinks to avoid being classified as yet another run-of-the-mill race-against-time, serial-killer-oriented action/adventure. There are two very interesting aspects of this story. One is the central plot that concerns the Pendergast brothers - sensational details revealed during the course of the story surprisingly provide only a cursory look at what caused these two brothers to embrace the opposite spectrums of law. Second is a side plot that revolves around the issue of ownership of ancient religious relics. Repeat side characters and intriguing subplots, including a look at some forgotten aspects of New York, keep the suspense churning. As always, the book ends in a dramatic cliffhanger that promises much for the next installment in this series.