Having read or listened to all of the Pendergast books I was finally completely disappointed in their newest offering, Two Graves. I have been concerned about the direction of the books for a while. I was troubled by the Diogenes story line and his interaction with Constance, largely because these characters were less than essential to the Pendergast theme. They were peripheral characters in different storylines that were afforded more than a useful share of the books.
I was troubled by the Stradivari storyline because it seemed an interminable load of back story serving no useful purpose again. I feel the authors have a need to demonstrate that they are worldly travelers deeply knowledgeable about the slightest nuance in broad swaths of lore. It sometimes becomes a bit of self-aggrandizement at the expense of the story.
I was concerned at the lack of real content in Cold Vengeance. The back and forth with Esterhazy was tedious and reminiscent of Keystone Kops. Important plot revelations equaled about a chapter only.
Which brings us to Two Graves. I was already troubled at the notion of the Nazis. Why reboot this tired tired canard. Never mind the nod to Captain America in the opening…as Pendergast goes super hero. The deductive reasoning that leads to impossible clues reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. The shocking mass killer reminiscent of Jack the ripper who we are to believe is the long lost progeny of a central character. And last but not least is the truly monumentally pointless exploration of the Constance story.
It seems the authors are truly finally lost or bereft of ideas and are throwing characters at the proverbial mud wall in hope of some success. I suggest a return to what made Pendergast compelling and different. Not a lot of heavy muddy pointless personal baggage. Rather a Kolchak-like penchant for uncovering strange occult appearing occurrences that are inevitably proven to be, not the work of ghosts and demons, but the work of bad people. He does not need a consistent buddy. D’agosta would be ok but the Laura Hayward character is not really useful. Also not useful is the whole girl from Kansas storyline. C’mon guys…come up with some new ideas or end the series honorably.
I won’t be buying another Pendergast book unless there is a change for the better. I stopped reading Two Graves halfway through. I may finish the book at some point but I needed to look away from this unfortunate disappointment.
I have never read the print version but I do applaud the performance by the ever-talented Rene Auberjonois. His talents in this rendention is purely eloquent.
If I told my favorite character I would be giving away the story....but the last name is Pendergast and you will be so surprised when I don't say its Eloisius.
This performance was absolutely fascinating. His voice characterizations drew you into a brilliantly written story line. The first couple of chapters are slow but by the 20th chapter, Preston and Child's drops a story line on you so dramatic, I hope you will be sitting in your seats when you hear it....ESPECIALLY if you are a Pendergast fan who has read all the books.
You won't be expecting it, neither will Pendergast...has he finally met his match?
This is a must and mandatory read for all Pendergast fans and even a good read for first time readers. Even if you have given up on the series, this one will bring you back and drop you off a cliff you didn't know was coming. A roller coaster ride with twists and turns that will lead you angry, excited, breathless, awe-struck and in tears.
The Special Agent Pendergast series is character driven; he is a shadow of his former self in this book, and the character we've grown to love is largely absent until the last five minutes of the book. His motivation for this absence involves the back-story of his wife Helen. It's very hard to believe that Pendergast, as he's been constructed over the series, would be so blind to evidence generated by his own wife. His usual hyper-awareness seems totally absent for her; she is truly a blind spot, and yet it wasn't so in past books. This back-story provides the plot of the book, and Pendergast's motivation, and because we expect a lot more of him, it's disappointing.
This isn't one story line either. These other threads revolve around Constance, Corey and to a lesser extent, D'Agosta. They add nothing to Pendergast's mainline, and I wonder at their inclusion. Yes, it was interesting to fill in Constance's story, but unnecessary.
The main story is lackluster not only because Pendergast is out of character, but because the plot relies on grisly details in parts to move it along. There's a lot of stereotyping so that most of the characters are also one-dimensional.
Renee Auberjonois does an excellent job of narration. Without him, I'd have downgraded my overall rating to just two stars.
I hope that Preston/Child aren't making the same mistake made by Cornwell in the Scarpetta series. Eviscerating a popular character that has sold millions of books carries the risk that loyal readers will use their dollars in search of more deserving works. I've stopped reading Cornwell; I hope that won't be the case with the Pendergast series.
Speaker, Coach, Author - in Reno, NV (A GREAT place!) I've been an avid Audible fan for several years. Listen on my iPhone many hours each week.
I am a HUGE fan of Preston & Child and their Pendergast series. I finished this one only because I am such a big fan and Rene Auberjonois is such a master narrator. I will certainly buy the next book in the series - but if it is as far off the mark as this one is, it will be my last. The reviews on this book, which I read the other day, long after I'd purchased mine since I had it on auto-purchase, were clearly wildly mixed. Some love it and others are feeling like I do - pretty disappointed. I won't go into all the craziness that was in this book, but suffice it to say that it didn't live up to everyone's expectations for what we want from our favorite FBI agent (and those who write about him).
I've listened to all of the Pendergast stories and Rene Auberjonois does a good job reading this one, but the writing of Pendergast stories is going downhill, IMO. Too full of of old cliches' (what is "living rock?")
I am not sure who may enjoy it more. It seemed very disconnected.
no, I just think I need to read the discription better for future purchases.
it was not the performance that was the issue.
Say something about yourself!
My first Preston/Child book hooked me hard. Together they were a machine cranking out thrillers that I thought I would never get enough of. Aloysius Pendergast immediately became a favorite when he was introduced--such a unique aristocratic hero--written so vividly that I would have recognized the albino-like polyglot if he happened to be gracefully walking down any street (or rather if he pulled up in one of his RR Silver Wraiths). So exotic and wonderful that I always wondered where the almost omnipotent agent could go from such a beginning. Who can possibly sustain such a level of mystery and magic when their super-human facade is chipped away a bit with each book? Those little glimpses into the enigmatic, but very human, Pendergast are what kept us coming back to see what new trick the Agent had up his impeccably tailored sleeve. I can't find fault with the writing style, still as smart as ever, but the fantabulous Pendergast seems to be a shadow of his former self. One or more of the 3 seems to be getting a little rusty or worn.
Like other reviewers, I miss Pendergast's strict adhereance to the old PC formula, and think his latest adventure took him out of focus and weakened the formula in which he shined. Two Graves seemed to waiver off course (with its multiple plots and chases) and stagger to an ending that didn't leave me very hungry for more. I prefer Pendergast cleverly and unconventionally solving a case instead of chasing down the villians. Maybe this is a case of: If pleasure remains, does it remain a pleasure? If you've followed the series you'll want the conclusion, but it wasn't a conclusion worthy of FBI Special Agent Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast - or Preston/Child. Unfortunately, it was only a mediocre conclusion that has become more of what I have been experiencing lately from the Preston/Child machine.
Books are windows into other worlds--and listening is my favorite way to get there!
If you have not read Fever Dream and Cold Vengeance yet--be warned-- there may be spoilers in this review. I don't think Two graves is a stand alone book, as there is a lot of back story in the first two books of this trilogy. You're lucky in a way, as you won't have to wait for each new book in this trilogy. You can go right to the next installment without so much as taking time to wave your fist in the air and say a few unpleasant words about the cliff hangers most of us have endured. So please- do yourself a favor and read those first.
Two Graves starts out where Cold Vengeance left us. Judson Esterhhazy (Helen's brother) has agreed to arrange to bring Helen back to Pendergast. Unfortunately, "The Covenant" has been tipped off, and an ambush ensues. Before Helen and Pendergast get to enjoy each other's company for more than a few minutes, Helen is once again kidnapped, Judson and Pendergast are both shot, and the only thing Pendergast has left to go on is a partial license plate number from the vehicle that whisked Helen away.
Pendergast is nothing if not persistent--not much stands in his way as he pursues those who abducted his wife, and when it comes to Helen, he doesn't much care who gets hurt in the process. Unfortunately, his efforts don't give him as much satisfaction as he was hoping for in the end--in one way much sadness, but then new information and people who come into his life who will help ease the pain.
This book is about so much more, however. At least three different story lines are woven into the novel back and forth, but so seamlessly that it amazingly all makes perfect sense. Cory Swanson is briefly back in the picture to steal some secret Nazi documents, give them to Pendergast, and then she is off into a completely different story line about her own life, where she finally meets her father and solves a crime. We also find out much more about Constance, wherein her past is finally revealed to us- with explanations about her age, her family, her baby, and how she came to be in her current situation.
Most shocking of all, though, is the information that comes to Pendergast as he helps D'Agosta with a serial murder case. What he learns makes him re-examine everything he thought he knew about his life with Helen and takes him deep into the forests of South America. He learns about the secret Nazi experiments that went on generations ago, and have continued to the present- affecting Pendergast in a very personal way.
Overall, a very enjoyable book. The only part I could say anything negative about is the extremely long (I thought) fight which went on and on with the Nazi's. I thought they could have cut it about in half.
The book leaves us with a lot to think about for the future--however NOT a cliff hanger.
One last thing--maybe the most important- Rene Auberjonois is superb. He is the best voice for Pendergast and also makes the other characters come to life as individuals. So glad he is the one who narrated this trilogy.
The truth of the matter is that, if you are a fan of the series, you will listen to this book regardless...but it's definitely not up to the level of the first few (It IS better than Cold Vengeance, which wasn't even a full story). If you expect early Pendergast, you will be disappointed by the unrelated story lines that seem to be included in the book "just because," by the series of new characters that appear and are disposed off for no good reason, and by some of the ridiculous coincidences (i.e. a volcano that's about to erupt at precisely the right moment).
That said, if you download it like you would download the season finale of a TV series, you won't be disappointed. It is entertaining -- but definitely not great.
I was extremely disappointed with the quality of the plot in this book. These authors are far better than this. There is a hodge podge of all the characters in the series and you are bounced from one feeble story to another without them meaning anything to the other. Pendergrast is not the strong character that we've grown to know and enjoy - he's turned into a miserable weakling that we are supposed to believe is driven to the brink of suicide by the death of someone that he's not even sure if he loves anymore?? The inclusion of all the characters made me feel like I was watching a ping pong match and wondering if there was ever going to be a tie-in or just a book of 4 or 5 stories taking place. From the very beginning of the book, I was thinking that I'd missed a chapter somewhere that would somehow make it all make more sense. I felt like I just had 5 different books open -- read a chapter in one, pick up another and read a chapter in that and so on - then start over.Best thing in this book was Rene Auberjonois.