There aren’t many protagonists in modern thriller fiction like FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. He appears to be an albino, speaks with the fine lilt and charm of a southern gentleman, possesses a steel-trap mind that rivals Sherlock Holmes, and is full of enough secrets that no reader who has followed his numerous exploits ever feels like they know him.
TWO GRAVES is the latest Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child novel to prominently feature Pendergast. Along with any Pendergast book, of course, comes Detective Vincent D’Agosta. Make no mistake, though: the book firmly belongs to Pendergast. Heartbroken at the apparent death of his wife Helen, he is more than surprised to find her alive when he comes across her in the hands of German abductors in Central Park.
"TWO GRAVES provides readers exactly what they would expect from a Preston and Child novel --- thrills, high adventure, treacherous plot twists and well-researched scientific intrigue. The story is never predictable, and Pendergast is a multi-layered personality who keeps you guessing throughout."
During a brief and violent confrontation, Pendergast must relive his pain and anguish as Helen is killed before his eyes. He believes he knows the group behind this murderous act and vows to avenge Helen. It is this motivation that brought about the title for the novel, taken from a quote by Confucius that reads “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
While Pendergast plots his revenge, his services are called upon by D’Agosta and the NYPD. They need help tracking down a new and particularly dangerous serial killer dubbed the Hotel Killer. This individual not only kills his victims but also mutilates their bodies, cutting them into several pieces. What makes his M.O. unique is that at each murder scene the police find an additional body part, apparently coming from the killer’s own body.Pendergast believes he recognizes this deadly handiwork as being that of his evil brother, Diogenes. Further investigation reveals that he is partially right. The killer is a blood relative, but it is his son who is behind these murders. The only problem for Pendergast is that he never knew he had a son.
The Hotel Killer case slowly evolves into the murder of Helen Pendergast, and the answers are to be found deep in the forests of South America. What leads him there is a young man named Tristram, who turns out to be his son and the Hotel Killer’s twin, now revealed to be Alban. The body parts found at each murder scene have come from the body of Tristram. Pendergast takes off for Brazil to a place called Nova Godoi, where time has stood still, circa the 1940s. The Nazi party is alive and well and experimenting once again. Their aim is to create a master race utilizing the production of twins --- one to represent the group called Der Bund, and the other merely kept around for parts. Pendergast must not only infiltrate this super-secret society but also face off with his evil offspring Alban.
TWO GRAVES provides readers exactly what they would expect from a Preston and Child novel --- thrills, high adventure, treacherous plot twists and well-researched scientific intrigue. The story is never predictable, and Pendergast is a multi-layered personality who keeps you guessing throughout.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on December 14, 2012