FBI Special Agent Pendergast Gets a New Partner in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s ‘Verses for the Dead’ [REVIEW]

Cemetery gate
A killer leaves his calling card at local gravestones in Preston & Child’s Verses for the Dead. (Photo courtesy Canva)

Nobody likes change, especially renowned FBI Special Agent Pndergast who is used to working alone. But government agencies are notorious for switching things up on a moment’s notice, and if he wants to keep his job, he’d better accept his new partner. After all, they have a new case to crack, and this one is as chilling as it is puzzling. Good thing creepy conundrums are right up Pendergast’s alley. Readers are in for another brain-teasing treat in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Verses for the Dead.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's VERSES FOR THE DEAD
Grand Central

Pendergast has been a longtime favorite character of mine for years now, so I knew as soon as Grand Central sent over this book that it would be very hard for me to put it down. In fact, I told my husband that I would be incommunicado until I had read the very last page. Knowing I hold Preston and Child’s books in high esteem, he didn’t seem phased by my comment.

This time out, it is easy to know when the proverbial shoe is being dropped. Here, it is when Assistant Director in Charge Walter Picket and junior agent Coldmoon meet up with Pendergast in a cedar-walled sauna to discuss his next assignment. Picket pairs the two agents, much to Pendergast’s chagrin. But if he wants to continue working for the FBI, he needs to get on board.

At this point, it is very hard to envision how this relationship is going to work, much less last or become something meaningful to either man. But I thought, “why not give it a try?” Building new partnerships within a novel—just as in life—takes a certain amount of effort and commitment for both parties, so I wished them well.

In this 18th installment of the series, the two agents hunt a bloodthirsty psychopath in Miami Beach who cuts out his victims’ hearts and leaves them on local gravestones along with a handwritten note. There’s just one thing, none of the graves seem connected, except that they all belong to women who committed suicide. Now Pendergast and Coldmoon must figure out what the new murders have to do with the old suicides.

As the body count rises and the agents’ puzzle through one theory after another, Pendergast works each crime scene in his very unique way. But Coldmoon also brings a shrewd intuition to the case too, which surprised me. In fact, I actually came to like the man, even if his intentions toward Pendergast seem rather nefarious.

As always, Preston and Child do a remarkable job developing their characters, and they don’t disappoint as they peel back Coldmoon’s layers like they would the skin of an onion. One way they do this is through the delicious bits of dialogue Pendergast and Coldmoon share, each exchange introducing new insights into Coldmoon’s past.

As the clock counts down, Pendergast and Coldmoon diligently race to decipher the disturbed killer’s cryptic notes as they simultaneously strive to work as a team and learn to appreciate each other’s nuanced gifts.

With each turn of the page, the authors tighten the suspense like strands of piano wire about our necks, leaving us gasping for breath, but unable to look away. Verses for the Dead is ghoulish good fun and may just be Preston and Child’s best book to date.

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Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are the number one bestselling authors of the celebrated Pendergast novels, as well as the Gideon Crew books.

Preston and Child’s Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities were chosen by readers in a National Public Radio poll as being among the one hundred greatest thrillers ever written, and Relic was made into a number one box office hit movie.

Readers can sign up for their monthly newsletter, The Pendergast File, at PrestonChild.com, and follow them on Facebook.

By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
352 pp. Grand Central. $28.

Purchase Verses for the Dead direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Half Price Books | Hudson Booksellers | IndieBound | Powell’s | Walmart.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
(Photo by Deborah Feingold)

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

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