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The Book of the Dead


The Book of the Dead

THE BOOK OF THE DEAD is the climactic conclusion to what is loosely
referred to as the Pendergast Trilogy. As such, you would
expect to have to have read the previous two works in order to have
any idea of what is going on. No doubt much more could be gleaned
from the novel if you are an avid follower, but it can also be said
that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child succeed in providing a book
that does not completely leave first-time readers in the dark. From
the get go, they weave in story elements and background enough to
give you some idea of what it is that has gone before. As a
stand-alone piece, THE BOOK OF THE DEAD is still a heck of a
thrilling ride.

The New York Museum of Natural History is the backdrop for the
tale, and in page one things already begin to go incredibly wrong.
A delivery arrives via bike messenger. Tattered and leaking a
mysterious powder, the Museum is shut down in a post-9/11 potential
bio-terror panic scenario. The powder in question, however, is not
nearly so dangerous, yet it is extremely troublesome. Previously,
the Museum's diamond collection had been stolen, and the dust
delivered in the box is the remains of that priceless exhibit. Now
the question is who would steal something so valuable only to
destroy it? And how can the Museum deflect the media scrutiny to

The answer to the second question is simple: locate and reopen the
Tomb of Senef exhibit. Originally opened 70 years previously, the
exhibit was mysteriously shut after a series of grisly murders
began to plague the Museum. Giving the old Egyptian presentation a
state-of-the-art overhaul seems to be a wonderful idea until the
murders begin again. As if this weren't bad enough, FBI Agent
Aloysius Pendergast and his maniacal brother, Diogenes, are
involved in a chess match that yields some startling results in the
book's final pages.

THE BOOK OF THE DEAD is crafted much like a rope. Not just one
simple thread, the novel takes the stories of several characters
and winds them tightly around each other to form one strong and
compelling story. With so many characters floating around, it would
become a tangled mess in the hands of less capable authors. Preston
and Child have a clear idea of their direction for the individual
arcs and their place in the storyline as a whole, and thus are able
to snag readers as soon as the cover is cracked. They propel the
story forward with great skill and without ever leaving readers
with a shred of disinterest or boredom. This is not merely quality
writing, this is quality storytelling.


Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on December 22, 2010

The Book of the Dead
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446618500
  • ISBN-13: 9780446618502