Review: Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
"You see, when someone says 'it's impossible,' I have this very bad habit - I can't help myself, I immediately contradict that person in the most positive terms possible. A very bad habit, but one that I find hard to break."
Only days before a massive exhibition is due to open at the New York Museum of Natural History, there is a brutal series of murders. Autopsies reveal that the killer is not human.
Let's start with a few criticisms. Preston and Lincoln are clearly authors who love their characters. Something that as a writer, I can relate to. But someone really needed to go through this novel with a big red pen and do a little editing.
For the first book in a series called the 'Aloysius Pendergast' series, Aloysius Pendergast doesn't actually appear until chapter 14. As I listened to this one on audiobook, that's about two hours in.
Relic also has two initial chapters which act more as two sperate prologues, rather than kicking off the novel itself. It stalled the narrative in my opinion and was entirely unneeded!
There is also the tendency to head-hop in close third-person, which often had me wondering whose head you're in at the time. Something that is considered a no-no in modern literature... on the other hand, GRR Martin who is mildly considered successful has more POV characters than anyone can name, so there are always exceptions.
So while you, like I, may struggle with the first third of this book, I implore you to continue. Because, as I say, in chapter 14, you'll meet Aloysius Pendergast.
Not that there aren't plenty of fabulous characters to be getting on with including Margo, the level-headed researcher, William Smithback, Jr., a journalist determined to dig up dirt on the museum and my personal favourite Vincent D'Agosta, the policeman investigating the murders.
The story is a really interesting blend of science fiction and touches of horror which makes the creature the story centres around genuinely chilling in parts.
Anyone who begs you to read this book is really gunning for you to love Agent Pendergast, the protagonist of this series. The quote at the start of this post is from him. This character clearly has a lot of love - put his name into Google and you'll find a lot of artwork and fantasy casting.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Agent Pendergast works for the FBI. He's extremely intelligent, combining a Sherlock Holmesian wit and skill with a Southern gentlemen approach. There are clear indications in the first book of a tragic backstory I can't wait to hear more of and he clearly has a lot of talents we've yet to see.
It's just a pity we don't see more of him!
I'm going to give this book Three Stars. While I have my criticism and probably wouldn't read it again, I was still sold on the characters and world. The book intrigued me enough to want to carry on the series, which is all a first book has to do!