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Book: Dance of Death

September 12, 2008
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This was the Empire Strikes Back, the Two Towers of this series. (apparently this is the second book of the Aloysius-Diogenes trilogy) As such, it wasn’t quite as much fun as the ones I’ve been reading; it’s kind of bridge-y (although I argue that the Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie).

So. After the ‘cliffhanger’ (which wasn’t much of a cliffhanger) in the last book, Brimstone, we find out that of course the indestructible Agent Pendergast is alive and well after being rescued by his evil-to-the-core brother, Diogenes. Diogenes has terrible, terrible plans for a mastermind crime and his brother must be alive for the plans to be complete. So.

What is the terrible crime that Diogenes is constructing? After all the build-up of how diabolical and evil Diogenes was, I expected worse (better?). I mean, it’s all well and good to systematically murder the people closest to Agent Pendergast, a man with few friends, and then to frame him for the murders is also a fine idea. But oh! It’s just a ruse for the REAL crime! Diogenes is… wait for it… stealing diamonds! Not just any diamonds, but the Biggest Bestest Most Rarest diamonds in the world, from our old favorite place, the New York Museum of Natural History.

A diamond heist? Really?

Ok, I get it. It’s got the most secure security system in the world. It involved years of planning and several in-depth surprises. There were James-Bondian redirection of lasers and holographic images. It’s cool. I get it. But mostly, I shrugged. Who cares about a diamond heist?

The murders were way more interesting.

One thing that bothered me about this framing-Agent-Pendergast thing was lack of motive. Now, I am not really a connoisseur of police thrillers or police shows or anything policey at all, but don’t you usually need a motive? I guess the angle was that somehow, one of the best FBI agents in America suddenly fulfilled his ‘psychological profile’ (which sounded like bunk to me, and I hope gets cleared up in the next book) and became a serial killer… because he’s psychotic? I didn’t get it. That seemed silly. Why would he kill everyone closest to him? They didn’t even raise the question in the book.

The other thing that got tiring was this was one of those “Greatest Hits” books in which the authors, apparently having plenty of well-received novels under their belts, decide to trot out every important character from all the past books, make little in-jokes about their first novel, Relic (including allusions that since it was their first book, it wasn’t very good, and haven’t they improved by leaps and bounds since then?), and basically wink their way through some silly plot devices, hoping that their loyal readers will grant them these indulgences.

Which, of course, we do, but not without some eye-rolling.

So, this was not my favorite of these books. The only reason I read it is to get to the next book, Book of the Dead, in which many loose ends will be tied up and the trilogy complete, the crimes solved, and hopefully, Diogenes out of the picture. He’s distracting. I like Mr. (Dr.? Agent?) Pendergast alone with his quirks, not hampered by some evil brother out to get him.

There is a teeny tiny little romantic twist to this book which I did appreciate. Apparently Pendergast has a heart, after all.

But now, for my own dilemma. It’s my turn for Breaking Dawn at the library — I have to go pick it up today. It’s my birthday weekend, so should I celebrate by completing the trilogy, or by completing the quartet of the Twilight books? Maybe… I should do both!

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