Cemetery Dance, the new novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child starts off with a shocker and doesn’t release its grip until the end. The book opens with the violent murder of reporter William Smithback and near murder of his wife, anthropologist Nora Kelly, in their Dakota apartment in Manhattan and takes the reader on a roller coaster thrill ride right to the end.
There was no doubt that the murderer was a Dakota neighbor, Colin Fearing. He was witnessed leaving bloody and disheveled by several people who lived in their building, including the doorman, and was clearly visible on the lobby security camera. The only problem, Fearing committed suicide almost two weeks earlier and was already buried.
Enter FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergrast and partner NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta. Like Smithback and Kelly, Pendergrast and D’Agosta have appeared in many prior Preston/Child novels. Their investigation leads them to a world most of us have never had the displeasure of experiencing. A world of Louisiana back bayou voodoo, or more correctly, vodou, as well as zombiis, and a strange, satanic cult that seems to spend most of its evenings slaughtering innocent animals in carrying out its deadly rituals.
Cemetery Dance is Preston and Child’s ninth novel featuring the unorthodox Special Agent. Like many of the previous novels, this one also uses the New York Museum of Natural History as a backdrop.
Cemetery Dance is, by far, the most gruesome of the Pendergrast novels. While previous novels used settings and rich character development to carry them, this one relies more on ‘”shock value”. While still richly and colorfully drawing the various nefarious characters, both alive and dead, as well as the rituals witnessed by Pendergrast and D’Agosta, Preston and Child have definitely ratcheted up the “ick” factor like never before. This is not a book for someone with a weak stomach.
That being said, the novel still possesses the elements of mystery, suspense, and intrigue that makes all of the Pendergrast novels so interesting and difficult to put down. While this book can be read as a stand-alone novel, it does refer to characters and situations in previous novels without much explanation. Therefore, while it’s not necessary to read any previous Pendergrast novels prior to reading Cemetery Dance, it would be helpful.