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City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 16, 2018

Two decapitations, although only a day apart, seem unrelated. One victim was a mob lawyer, killed in his home with a bow and arrow. The other, a billionaire’s daughter, was shot through the heart and left in a pile of leaves inside a garage. By the time a third decapitation occurs, it seems a serial killer may be at work.

Pendergast is out of favor with the FBI, and is punished by being assigned to help the NYPD investigate. Normally, Pendergast chooses his own cases, but his breach of protocol in the last novel has not been forgiven. In addition, Pendergast is still suffering the rigors of his last adventure and isn’t his former self. He’s still arrogant and snobbish, but he has little interest in his former passions, including the investigation of murder. He’s also lost a good bit of his bulk and doesn’t seem inclined to regain his strength. But the real problem, the reader presumes, is that Pendergast is feeling the pangs of lost love. Fortunately, it takes only a tea ceremony to restore our intrepid detective.

Are the deaths related? A reporter is certain the victims, all fabulously wealthy and of disreputable character, were killed by a psychopathic vigilante, a theory that has New Yorkers cheering (at least, the ones who aren’t wealthy). But Pendergast is being his usual tight-lipped self. The billionaire whose daughter was killed, however, doesn’t like the way the reporter portrayed his daughter, and intends to do something about it. Something wicked.

The plot touches upon a number of hot-button issues without becoming overtly political, including reporters who may or may not publish fake news, publications that sensationalize news, protests against one-percenters, and the use of social media to manipulate opinion. The story begins as a straightforward serial killer investigation and ends with a prolonged action scene of the “Most Dangerous Game” variety. Some of the plot pushes the boundaries of credibility (particularly a nutcase who wants to build a big bonfire of the vanities in Central Park, a bonfire that the police handle in a strange way), but most of the story is plausible, and that’s more than one can say for a good many modern thrillers.

The plot does include a potentially life-changing event for Pendergast, but it comes in the epilog. City of Endless Night is more an action novel, and less a character-development novel, than some others in the series. Its pace and intrigue, however, are comparable to other Pendergast novels, which makes it a fun read.


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