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Relic (Pendergast) MP3 CD – Unabridged, November 4, 2014
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Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human.…
But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.
Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who—or what—is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?
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- Publisher : Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (November 4, 2014)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1491576723
- ISBN-13 : 978-1491576724
- Item Weight : 3.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 0.63 x 5.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,095,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2020
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So. These are our protagonists. The first murders in the Museum seem a tragedy. But as the bodies start mounting, the situation becomes ever more dire -yet the Museum is determined to go forward with the opening night of a new exhibit, called Superstition. As it happens, one of the key pieces of this exhibit is a figurine of Mbwun, an Amazonian monstrosity who appears to have been worshiped (or at least venerated) by a remote tribe... and the figurine depicts a creature with traits that fit the profile of the murderer/murder weapons. And so rumours start to build of a Museum Beast, lurking in the bowels of the Museum... While D'Agosta and Pendergast are convinced by the scientists as to the increasing viability of this hypothesis, the Museum heads and the head of the New York FBI office aren't buying it, and insist on going forward with the opening... setting the stage for a whole lot of trouble.
P&C have a talent for description, both atmospheric and characteristic. Though I have no doubt readers with a more intimate familiarity with the Museum of Natural History would get even greater enjoyment out of this book, they draw vivid enough pictures for those of us, like myself, who've only made brief passes through years earlier, or those who've never set foot in that museum at all. From the vast open hallways to the claustrophobic below-ground research labs, the sense of place is incredibly strong, as is the sense of mood -- vitally important to a thriller. When the Beast pursues Margo, I could clearly visualise her dim, shadowy surroundings, I could feel Margo's barely-controlled panic, I could hear the snuffling of the beast. P&C handle both stillness and chaos deftly.
The sense of character is also great. P&C have an ability which I often associate with Law and Order episodes -- to evoke a very specific personality, with a distinct background, in a very short amount of time. Of course, by mid-book, you start strongly suspecting that anyone new introduced is probably going to be the next victim, but that's not too much to overcome. The major characters all have complex backgrounds -- which often aren't even fully explored in this book (Pendergast's less than anyone's) -- and while they certainly all have their flaws, it's that psychological veracity that makes them so compelling. Many of these characters weave through P&C's other novels, both within and outside of the Pendergast series, which makes returning to them, either in re-reads or when each new book comes out, rather like returning to old friends. These books often get compared to Michael Crichton's work, and I think the strong characters are what actually make them better. They do the science, the thrills, and the mystery all very well, too, but the magnetic personalities are what bring me back to these books time and again.
Overall, this book is a fun, quick read and the start to a great series. It's certainly not high literature -- and it doesn't need to be. But it is incredibly high-quality brain candy. I thoroughly recommend Relic, the rest of the Pendergast series, and all of P&C's work, both as a pair and individually (and I'll be reading and reviewing the rest over the coming months). Read them on the beach, on planes, at the park -- read them when you've been working too hard and need to give your brain a treat. They're a wonderful respite, and the most entertaining thrillers I've ever read.
The book is about twelve years old now, so it's obvious the electronic equipment will be outdated. I don't have any complaints with that and reading Relic reminded me just how fast technology advances. The complaint I do have is I felt the amount of technology was a little too much. Personal opinion of course, but without so much of it the book may have progressed at a much faster pace, which at times I felt it needed. The monster terrorizes the characters continually in the last quarter of the book, but was absent through a large amount, primarily in the middle section. There were a couple brief scenes, but I wanted more. Technology was the focus of the middle and seemed to bog down the narrative. This is one of two complaints.
As for the second: the word "gingerly" is ubiquitous in the novel. There's nothing wrong with the word and can at times sound pleasant, but reading it over and over got to be annoying. For example, in chapter sixty "gingerly" was used three times in a page and a half. There are also many more times the word was used throughout. Neither of my two complaints irritated me too badly and did not hinder my enjoyment, but the enjoyment may have increased if not for these two things. There may be some who disagree as novels are subjective.
Onto the good stuff. Despite the overuse of "gingerly," Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are excellent writers. I admire the vocabulary of the book and the characterization within was good. The structure of the work seemed to be more film-like than most novels. This isn't a bad thing but I noticed it right away. The narrative is in third person omniscient and switches scenes quickly and from different characters points of view often, to include short scenes that show the creature, such as the reefer smoking guard who immediately gets killed shortly after being introduced. Scenes as in my example make the novel film-like.
I've already mentioned the pace when technology was used, but when the monster is attacking, the pace is great and kept me turning the pages to see what was going to happen next. When the Superstitions show goes on as planned and after the security system traps the people inside of the museum, the pace was incredible, the action was exciting, and the creature turned into a true monster.
The Mbwun was a very interesting beast and one that fascinated me. There are times I read of a monster and wish I could steal it; but because I would never do that, creatures like the Mbwun provide plenty of motivation to create my own monster in hopes of competing with them. Preston and Child's monster was formidable, fast, intelligent, and seemingly indestructible. I did, however, think of shooting it in the eye after Pendergast shot the Mbwun in the head the first time because it would be the perfect place to get to the brain. I didn't know if that's how it would go down so I still kept wondering how the characters would kill it. Pendergast eventually kills the monster in the way I envisioned.
And for Pendergast. I found him likable, but sometimes he seemed to throw his incredible intelligence in the faces of the others. Maybe he couldn't help it and I've known a lot of very smart people who have done this and never realized it, so it's plausible. Pendergast was very interesting, but he changed very little throughout the book. He was already too perfect. Even in hard and ridiculously threatening times his speech remained constant and wordy. Sometimes I thought he could have been quicker in dialogue to provide a more dramatic Pendergast.
Relic is a good read. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are excellent writers and can spin a yarn pretty well.
Top reviews from other countries
The book is the first in a series of novels that feature Agent Pendergast - an extraordinary man who is an intellect, a philanthropist, and a detective whose speciality is unusual and prolific serial murderers. This mystery thriller is complex and fascinating which has, clearly, been researched thoroughly. The authors take care to explain the arcane and archaic details which underpin the mystery without being patronising. I love novels which educate me as well as take me through a fascinating story. This is one of those. And, it was a joy to find that this is the first in series of novels which feature Agent Pendergast.
The writing was good and the science and research sections were interesting a great alternative theory to well-known historical events. But other than this, I just couldn't find myself relating to the characters that well and I sometimes found it a little laborious to continue reading.
If the blurb intrigues you, do go ahead as it will likely be your sort of thing (hence the great reviews.)