Cold Vengeance – by Preston and Child

Preston & Child’s Cold Vengeance is another superb thriller. Any reservation I might hold in recommending it results from a feeling that you’d enjoy it even more if you had some history with FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. This novel is a good stand-alone story, but it’s so much better if you’ve had some previous thrills with Pendergast, the quirkiest
of law enforcement officer imaginable. For example, there’s no need to worry about soft-hearted liberal judges or courts. The bad guys in Pendergast’s career never live long enough to make it to trial. Finally, justice.

He’s brilliant, yet there’s something sadly formal about him. He obviously has feelings, but, in an Old Southern manner, he keeps them to himself.

When these authors gave birth to Special Agent Pendergast, they produced the most interesting crime-fighting character since Sherlock Holmes, perhaps even greater than Holmes.

Cold Vengeance takes the reader from the moors of Scotland to New York City on a roller coaster ride of thrills as Pendergast learns early in the book that his wife, whom he thought to have been dead for some years, may actually be alive and in hiding from some sinister master group. Pendergast, obsessed with his beloved Helen, goes so far as to have her body exhumed. DNA evidence indicates that his wife is the deceased. Yet doubt remains in Pendergast’s brilliant mind. He knows something is not right.

Once again, we meet police officers Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta and Captain Laura Hayward. Also making her first real appearance since Still Life With Crows is Corrie Swanson, Pendergast’s Goth assistant.

I’d run out and purchase this book, but along with it pick up one of the other Pendergast thrillers. Relic was the first (avoid the movie at all costs; it’s a disaster). Reliquary picks up where Relic leaves off and is just as brilliant and terrifying. Then comes Cabinet of Curiosities. Still Life with Crows is equally stand-alone, as is Cemetery Dance. There’s a trilogy in between, involving Pendergast and his estranged bother.

The previous Preston and Child text involving Pendergast was Fever Dream. Like Cold Vengeance, Fever Dream is best read after getting to know Pendergast. In Fever Dream, Pendergast discovers that his wife, killed by a lion, was actually murdered (someone intentionally loaded blanks in the gun she had to protect herself with).

Which brings us to Cold Vengeance, wherein Pendergast learns that his wife may be alive. Nothing is as it first appears in any Preston and Child novel. And, there’s a logical explanation for everything. It’s part of their writing brilliance—everything makes sense, eventually.

Eccentric (that’s an understatement), brilliant, intriguing—Aloysius Pendergast, get to know him. He becomes irresistible. If you must read Cold Vengeance and no other, you will find that it is a thriller of a caliber much higher than most. But if you get to know Pendergast first, it will be that much more intriguing and powerful.

You can read about Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and their , including the first chapter of Cold Vengeaance, at

About Mark Aidan Bergin

Writer, editor, photographic artist specializing in dance, theater, concert, fashion and street photography....sometimes musician. Explorer of arts, culture and world, and all things Celtic and Gotham. On a good day, or perhaps a bad day, simply a mad (FOOBAR, not angry) scientist.
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