White Fire

White Fire
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Can I just say, this book caused a lot of happy squealing on my end? First when Preston personally (!) sent me an Advanced Reader Copy (!!) Then when I saw the first page of the book, and again when I finished it. I have been a huge fan of Preston and Child’s Special Agent Pendergast for about 10 years now. Having finished their latest sub-trilogy in the series, they decided to explore new ground with Pendergast. And by new ground, I mean going way back in the past to the ground at the root of all detective stories: Sherlock Holmes.
I have long held that Pendegast is the most Sherlockian of detectives currently being written. So one of my squeals came when I opened White Fire to see a note that the character of Sherlock Holmes was used in this novel by permission of the Conan Doyle estate! Of course, how one of the greatest detectives in fiction got mixed up with Sherlock Holmes is a (typically, delightfully) twisted story.

Special Agent Pendergast’s protege, Corrie Swanson, is looking for the perfect research project to advance her studies at the College of Criminal Justice. She stumbles upon accounts of a man-eating bear in a Colorado mining town in the 1870s. Corri pours all of her resources into research, but powerful families in the town (now a high-class ski resort) are uncomfortable with what she unearths. While she digs around in the past, houses in the town are being burned to the ground. Corri makes some impetuous descisions, and this is where Pendergast has to come riding in to bail her out.
Pendergast’s take on the man- eating bear is wildly different, colored by an old Sherlock Holmes tale (invented in this book by Preston and Child. They do a remarkable job of alluding to Conan Doyle’s style but still writing in a manner recognizably their own.) Pendegast must call on all of his resources to not only solve the case but keep Corrie alive (and out of jail.) He leverages all of his connections and explores all his fields of obscure knowledge before bringing all his impressive powers of thought and deduction to bear and, of course, solving the case! All this while attired in only the finest of bespoke black menswear (the detailed descriptions of his Colorado snow gear were pretty funny.)

If you had merely said to me the words “Pendergast and Holmes” I would’ve been excited. Happily, this book was everything I hoped it would be- and more. Lincoln and Child do not disappoint. Fans of Pendergast will be happy to encounter him in this unique adventure. Readers new to the series will find this book an excellent place to start.


The other top (altho not quite as good) Sherlockian detectives currently being written are J. Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme and J. Nesbo’s Harry Hole.

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