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Publisher's Summary

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human. But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who - or what - is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?

Prolong the suspense: listen to the sequel, Reliquary.
©2007 Douglas Preston; (P)2007 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"With its close-up view of museum life and politics, plausible scientific background, sharply drawn characters and a plot line that's blissfully free of gratuitous romance, this well-crafted novel offers first-rate thrills and chills." (Publishers Weekly)
"Wildly cool....Thrill hounds couldn't ask for a creepier environment....a thriller staged in the world's scariest building, with no room for the squeamish." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Story

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Say WHAT?!?!

I bought this book on the repeated recommendation of a friend, an esteemed colleague on whose normally solid judgement I can usually rely. During the first hour or two, I thought, "Hey, he was right! This is a pretty interesting little thriller-slash-museum mystery!" After six to eight hours, I was happily driving to and from work each day thinking, "Hey, this isn't great literature or even close to on a par with a really GOOD sci-fi thriller like The Girl With All the Gifts, or even 14 or The Fold or Ready Player One, but it's kind of perfect for driving or doing housework, because you don't really have to listen to it; you don't even have to care who's who or who's talking at any given moment; you can just sort of let it flow over you." By hour ten, I had long since mentally downgraded it from four stars to three, and was composing the title of my review ("Cheesy as Aged Camembert") in my head as I drove. By hour eleven or twelve, my husband had been making jokes for some time, wondering aloud just how long it was going to take this mysterious murderous beast to finally show itself and eat the brains of all these stuffy museum administrators. By hour twelve and a half, I had speeded the book up to 1.5 speed just so I could get to the end, see the big reveal, declare the book finished and move on. Then hour thirteen came, and I kid you not, I literally screamed "WHAT?!" In my car and rewound the chapter to see if perhaps the conclusion could actually be said to make sense.

It doesn't. Suffice it to say that I ought to have heeded those reviewers who pointed out the multiple logical flaws in the early chapters, such as a wheelchair-bound scientist who is independent enough to hold down a museum directorship and a full teaching schedule but too weak to push his own wheelchair; a journalist/author who is still conducting research and interviews for his in-house book on a museum's upcoming blockbuster exhibition--LESS THAN 24 HOURS BEFORE THE EXHIBITION OPENS; and outrageous caricatures of most law enforcement, managers and directors as clueless, self-serving and inept. Given these outrages, why should modern-day scientists willing to crazily experiment on and tinker with their own genetic structures in violation of all research ethics and common sense seem at all surprising?

Add to all this the author's tendency to drop his voice to a near-whisper for any female character or any character who is actually supposed to be whispering and you get the idea. Tinkering with the volume controls constantly while driving was maddening and was made worse by the sound effects, which were all the more bizarre for being so limited. It was as if the producer had found an old echo-n-static noise box in a closet and plunked it down in front of the narrator's mic, saying, "Hey, as long as we already own this, we may as well get some use out of it. Could you please just talk into this whenever a character is said to be in a tunnel or basement, or on a walkie-talkie?" I've never heard anything more preposterous in an audiobook. And the editing is abysmal; some words and occasionally whole sentences are cut short.

Much as my friend would like me to keep going and read further into the Pendergast series, I just don't think I can do it. I give this book two and a half stars, only because it was just interesting enough to make me want to finish it.

11 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Cynthia
  • Monrovia, California, United States
  • 08-02-12

Story: Good +. Audio: Bad -. Very, very bad!

This is my second Preston/Child Pendergast book. I jumped in at Number 5 - "Still Life with Crows", and I was left scratching my head after that one. My final thought was "Huh?" i'm still thinking "Huh", but I would define that word as 'too many holes in the plot, too inexplicable, too implausible' But I loved the description of the town, and Dick Hill's audio performance was haunting. I am sure I will listen to Part I of "Still Life" again soon, when the leaves turn and are thrashed from their branches by the Santa Anas.

When I finished this "Relic", I thought "What if . . . " Not really likely (or probable), but "What if?" I'm still thinking that. The sense of place was intriguing, although sometimes a little hard to map in my mind. I remember the computer technology from the era discussed, and it's accurate. Yes, Virginia, computers used to have black screens and green letters - no other colors, no graphics.

That brings us to the audio, which is the worst that I've heard on Audible. The problem wasn't the difference between David Colacci (Relic) and Dick Hill (Still Life). It took me about ten minutes to make the transition, but I got used to it.

There were two major problems I never got over: the 'special effects' and Gilligan's Island.

Audio special effects are like text special effects - just because you can throw in 26 point Comic Sans into a paragraph of Times Roman 12 point text doesn't mean you should. It's jarring, messy, breaks the flow, and your reader will just ignore that comically blaring point you are trying to make.

With audio books, ust because you can throw in echoes and the sound of someone transmitting on a walkie talkie doesn't mean you should. That happened in this performance, and I wished I could have skipped over all of that. I would have missed part of the story, but it was that annoying. I would have rather missed part of the story than hear it.

I was willing to attribute the intrusive 'special effects' to bad editing and production - until Thurston Howell III showed up. One of the characters had THIII's voice, and I am not kidding. Every time Colacci performed that character, I looked for the Minnow, shipwreked on a beautiful beach.

I will listen to another Pendergast book, just to fix my bearings on this . . .

10 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Relic

Great story. Narration a bit over dramatic. Description of weapons was a bit faulty for a police thriller.

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great book!

I can't wait to read the next book in the series! I could not put this book down!!!

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Great scary read<br />

LOVED IT. HELD MY ATTENTION CONTINUOUSLY. I was impressed with the readers ability to not sound like they were reading at any time!!

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One of my favorites of all time.

I have loved this book since it came out. The characters connect with me especially Pendergast.

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My lights were on

Loved it from start to finish. Truly frightening, kept my lights on to finish it.

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Murders at the Museum

What made the experience of listening to Relic the most enjoyable?

I loved getting some insight into the inner workings of the Museum of Natural History. Despite the grisly deaths that occur, I want to visit now more than ever.

Any additional comments?

A wonderful book that I had read multiple times before. Now I get to enjoy listening to it. Great narrator.

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I was great

What else can I say? I loved it. It starts off nice and slow for the reader, introduces mystery and then reels you in with great characters and a museum beast!

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Cool story with great reading.

Much better than the movie. The reader did a great job with the different voices of the characters.