Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Cemetery Dance
Douglas Preston
Mystery/suspense is a genre I don’t mind reading but usually I don’t pay much attention to it and only read it every so often. When Hachette Books offered me Cemetery Dance I thought I’d give the book a try.

The Premise: It all starts off with the murder of a respected journalist and friend of FBI agent Pendergast and New York police Lieutenant D’Agosta. A lot of people in the journalist’s apartment building see the killer, and identify him as an actor named Colin Fearing, who also lives in the building. With so many witnesses, it seems like an open and shut case. But there is a problem: Colin killed himself a couple of weeks ago. Soon New York City is in an uproar over zombie killers and what the police are doing about them. Agent Pendergast and Lieutenant D’Agosta are on the case for the sake of avenging their friends death, but how do you find a killer who is supposed to be dead?

My Thoughts: This is the latest(I think?) in this series of books. I haven’t read any of the rest of them so this worked fine as a standalone, though I’m possibly missing a background on some of the reoccurring characters (I had no problems making guesses).

FBI agent Pendergast seemed to be the main character, although the focus moved to Nora Kelly and Lieutenant D’Agosta a few times. Pendergast is unique character, I thought of him as a lanky, rich, Southern, Hercule Peroit. The type of character who is very observant, a few steps ahead of everyone else, and always solves the crime. He seemed to be a mythical figure, and I found his eccentricity and past interesting, but sometimes it felt a bit over the top, for example having a huge apartment in the city with a housekeeper and rooms only he is allowed into which leads to an indoor japanese garden? An evil aunt in a mental institution? It was a bit much for me, but then I haven’t read the rest of the series, so perhaps it’s harder for me to accept. I also felt like there was not that much to go on with Pendergast’s emotions – most of the time his face is neutral and he gives nothing away. It makes him seem impenetrable, but also hard to connect to.

Lieutenant D’Agosta seemed to be an angry cop, sometimes letting his anger take over, which Pendergast or other characters having to step in to calm him or tell him to be careful to not let his anger jeopardize the case or his job. Nora seemed to have more scope than the two men, she swung back and forth between grief and fear and anger and put herself in danger to find out who the killer was, but the reader sees less of her in this book. My favorite character was even more minor – Laura Hayward. She had a few smart things to say and I liked how capable she was and how she questioned Pendergast’s methods, but her appearance was brief. I’m guessing she is another reoccurring character though because of her past with D’Agosta.

I thought I understood who was behind the murders and was feeling a bit put out that the police were being obtuse until about halfway through the book when I started suspecting someone else. So I thought the mystery was well done because of the twists.

Speaking of twists, this is one of the books this year which fall under my private label of “unexpected zombies”. All of a sudden, zombies appear when I least expect it, and this happened again here. I know that the blurb for this book talks about a walking dead guy, but I was sure this would be explained in a scientific way. When this didn’t immediately happen, I began to wonder if there really were zombies created through some strange ritual! The authors kept their cards close to their chests regarding magic in the book.

Last comment: there are some violent and creepy scenes in this book which kind of went with the flavor of the novel, but just FYI if you are squeamish. I didn’t think they were bad.

Overall: It was OK. I felt like I could see everything happening like you’d see in a movie, there is plenty of action, and suspense going on, and I did want to find out who did it and what will happen, but I just didn’t connect very well to the main characters. Maybe this is because I hadn’t read the earlier books or because it just wasn’t my thing. It felt like when I watch CSI: Miami. I like certain characters, but I cannot connect with Horatio Caine, and he’s the main guy, so in the end I can watch a show or two, but I am not so enthusiastic about it. That’s my problem here.

Review at Fantasy Book Critic (they highly recommended it)

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