Crooked River by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Crooked River by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, New York
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A startling crime with dozens of victims. Appearing out of nowhere to horrify the quiet resort town of Sanibel Island, Florida, dozens of identical, ordinary-looking shoes float in on the tide and are washed up on the tropical beach—each one with a crudely severed human foot inside.

A ghastly enigma with no apparent solution. Called away from vacation elsewhere in the state, Agent Pendergast reluctantly agrees to visit the crime scene—and, despite himself, is quickly drawn in by the incomprehensible puzzle. An early pathology report only adds to the mystery. With an ocean of possibilities confronting the investigation, no one is sure what happened, why, or from where the feet originated. And they desperately need to know: are the victims still alive?

A worthy challenge for a brilliant mind. In short order, Pendergast finds himself facing the most complex and inexplicable challenge of his career: a tangled thread of evidence that spans seas and traverses continents, connected to one of the most baffling mysteries in modern medical science. Through shocking twists and turns, all trails lead back to a powerful adversary with a sadistic agenda and who—in a cruel irony—ultimately sees in Pendergast the ideal subject for their malevolent research.

Special Agent Pendergast is taking a well earned rest down in Florida after closing an unusually nasty case. But when over a hundred severed feet wash up on shore in equally baffling green shoes Pendergast finds himself drawn to the case despite his best intentions. With the Coast Guard blustering around and a whole bunch of other authorities trying to stick their oar in can Pendergast uncover what is really going on?

I have been a big fan of this series for ages so I was really pleased with this latest addition. With a complicated and well woven plot there were a number of angles to this case and it wasn’t until well over the half way mark of the full length novel that I began to unwind which pieces were red herrings and which were related to the main case surrounding the feet. There were a number of strong secondary characters who I felt really added to the tension and plotlines – but Pendergast really was front and center doing exactly what he always does and I loved this.

I was particularly pleased to see Agent Coldmoon return – albeit recovering and not the pushover he was in the previous book. I am really growing to love this character and I sincerely hope he makes more appearances in future books. Roger Smithback also makes a strong appearance in this book. While he will never take over my love of William Smithback I have to admit Roger made a solid contribution to both the tension and moving forward of the plotlines. He really was a positive addition – I just sadly feel he can never come out from under his brother’s shadow in my personal perspective.

Readers who enjoy a solidly plotted and well woven mystery with a few unusual twists and turns (usually very faint paranormal or “other” illusions to the plot) and characters that are definitely outside the usual box should find this entire series an absolute hit. This book can certainly be read very easily on it’s own. There are a few subtle hints that the characters have had previous adventures together but the entirety of this book and particularly the plot stands utterly on it’s own merits in this book and readers can be comfortable picking this up having never read a Pendergast book previously.

A smashing adventure and one I really loved.

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