Wheel of Darkness is the latest collaboration between two exceptional authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – a duo that I’ve been following since their third novel, Mount Dragon.
The novel centers on Agent Pendergast, Preston and Child’s main protagonist, who’s been in almost all of the novels written by these two excellent authors.
Before I continue, this review will not contain any spoilers other than what you can garner from reading the back cover of the novel. I hate ruining things for people.
This novel is a murder mystery that, after reading, reminded me heavily of the old film noir detective novels and movies from the forties and fifties. You know what are considered to be the classics and arguably some of the best of these types of movies and literature.
Also, with the exception of the first portion of the book, the entire novel is set on the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise ship.
Pendergast and his ward travel to Tibet in order to help her deal with the events that took place in the book of the Dead.
During their time at the monastery, they learn of the theft of an ancient relic, one that was foretold to bring about the end of the world.
The monks, who know Pendergast, ask him to help track down the thief and recover the artifact before the events prophesied come true.
True to his word, he and Constance Greene set out hot on the trail of the thief and it eventually leads them to the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise ship.
Here they encounter far more than they could have imagined, of the least are a series of brutal murders that quickly put the passengers and crew of the ship in a state of panic.
This is by far the least of their worries.
The novel really felt like the old film noir movies from the forties and fifties. Half the time I was expecting an appearance by Spencer Tracy or Humphrey Bogart. But, there was plenty of modern technology to keep me, the reader, firmly planted in the modern era.
As per usual, Pendergast showed his intelligence and put his unique set of skills to good use at several instances during the novel. As usual I don’t want to spoil things for the reader, but his interaction with some of the secondary characters was, to be honest, quite brilliant in the manner in which he dealt with them.
And then there was the personal crisis that Pendergast is forced to face.
If I had a complaint about the novel, it was with how it ended, and the artifact itself. Once again, I won’t bother spoiling it for you. If you want to find out what I am talking about, read the book and you’ll see what I’m referring to.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read, and it really felt like a classic murder mystery from a bygone era. Not one of their best collaborations, but definitely worth picking up to read.
3.5 out of 5.