5 stars out of 5
The most recent book in the long-running series featuring Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast, Crimson Shore, ended with the eccentric, almost other-worldly agent missing and presumed dead. This one, not surprisingly, picks up where that one left off. And because it's the next in a series, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Pendergast somehow survived his ordeal on the shores of Exmouth, Massachusetts.
Admittedly, the previous book didn't thrill me as much as I'd hoped; still, when I got a chance to read an advance copy of this one in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at it. And boy, am I glad I did; any shortcomings in that last one are made up for here in spades. It's not a short book at 560 pages, but I polished it off in three days just because it was too hard to put down.
It begins two weeks after Pendergast is lost, and his ward, the ageless Constance Greene, is beside herself with grief. She retreats to the catacombs beneath the house she shares with the agent, thinking life as she'd come to know it is over. Suddenly, she's apparently taken captive by someone familiar with the Pendergast mansion on Riverside Drive - someone thought to have been killed by Constance almost three years earlier. As Pendergast's "man" Proctor begins to track her down, he's attacked as well; when he picks up the chase once again, he follows "clues" that could lead him to Constance or, more likely, to meet his maker.
As always, though, nothing is written in stone (well, actually, some of it is; the "obsidian" referred to in the book title is a glass-like volcanic rock formed by rapid solidification of lava without crystallization). Needless to say, it plays a central part in the story, which takes the characters and readers halfway around the world and back before coming to an end - with the requisite cliffhanger, of course. I wish I offer more details, but doing so undoubtedly would spoil things for those familiar with the series.
For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, I'll say this can be read as a standalone, but your enjoyment will be enhanced if you read at least a few of the books that came before it (this is, I believe, the 16th in the series). In any event, kudos to the authors for dreaming up yet another intricate, intriguing plot!
The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central Publishing, October 2016); 560 pp.