"The Cabinet of Curiosities" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

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"The Cabinet of Curiosities" is the third novel in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Pendergast series. The series follows an eccentric F.B.I. agent through a string of strange and mysterious cases that are often solved with his cool use of intellect and surprising physical ability. This goes for "The Cabinet of Curiosities" as well. In this novel, Aloysius Pendergast is on the trail of a serial killer that is more than one hundred and fifty years old.

"The Cabinet of Curiosities" begins with the discovery of 130-year-old charnel pit beneath the former location of a cabinet of curiosities in Manhattan. The pit contains the remains of thirty-six murder victims. Agent Pendergast arrives to investigate on his own and is met with serious opposition, as the site is slated for construction by a major corporation. He discovers what he can in his usual cool and precise manner and the reader soon realizes that he knows something that he is not letting on to those who are helping him.

The novel soon delves into the history of cabinets of curiosities in New York. These were popular and often macabre displays of  grotesque, odd and well, curious objects and people. The former owner of one of these cabinets is soon considered a suspect in the case of the more than a century old charnel pit. Pendergast and his companions are soon hot on the trail of the killer, who is surprisingly still alive. They find he is capable, smart and still murderous.

As the investigation continues, the reader is drawn into the history of a brilliant madman who has been killing for more than a hundred years in an effort to produce a perfect and deadly poison. He knew that he could not produce such a thing in one lifetime and was forced to develop a means to prolong his life. So, Agent Pendergast finds himself not only investigating the murders from so long ago, but tracking the killer as he strikes again.

"The Cabinet of Curiosities" is a well-developed, suspenseful and intriguing novel. Agent Pendergast is his usual mysterious and intelligent self and Preston and Child take his mysteriousness to a whole new level in this one. Throughout the novel, you find yourself wondering what the heck he is up to. You can’t help but turn the page over and over, trying to discover what he has up his sleeve this time. The criminal in this novel is also very mysterious and his identity is very surprising. However, his charisma and brilliance don’t come close to matching that of Pendergast.

Shelly Barclay

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