Friday, June 15, 2012

Gideon's Corpse, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I have been a fan of Preston and Child's Pendergast series.  I think as their popularity as writers grows, the quality of their writing is diminishing.  Even in their most recent Pendergast book, I felt they had shortchanged their readers.  I am guessing that publisher pressures to turn out books quickly are forcing them to release books that are incomplete and not polished as much is they had been before they became best selling writers. I have had a similar experience with reading Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series. I felt the last couple books have ended prematurely.  They feel almost more like chapters that should be part of a longer book.

The plot of this book focuses on terrorism and dirty nuclear weapons.  I think the plot had great potential but the characters, plot and settings were not as well developed as in the earlier books by this writing team. Much of this book is set in New Mexico, a state with which I am very familiar.  I couldn't help but compare the visualizations of New Mexico in earlier books by this writing duo.  I felt that they shortchanged the descriptions of setting and culture of New Mexico.  Particularly, Los Alamos, one of America's nuclear research facilities, deserved a little more detailed description.

For some reason I am less enamored of Gideon as a main character than I am of Pendergast. I can't really explain it, they're both larger than life and surrounded by mystery. Perhaps because Pendergast's history is more complex and revealed more slowly he becomes a more engaging protagonist than  Gideon.  It may also be that Gideon is very much a loner.  Although this could be said of Pendergast as well, he also has a collection of friends and supporters that add texture and depth to Pendergast as a character.

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