I finished Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s new book a couple weeks ago, but never had time to discuss it. As you may know, Preston and Child are my favorite authors. I especially love their thrillers featuring Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast, and White Fire was the latest book featuring him. I was really looking forward to this book, but I was a bit disappointed when I finished it.
White Fire is definitely not the best work by the authors. It takes place in a remote city; I feel all their best works are set in big cities. It also doesn’t have a lot of Pendergast in the book; the main character is Corrie Swanson, who is certainly a well-developed and colorful character, but all Preston/Child fans love Penderagast way more. The strong set of supporting characters in the Pendergast universe were not featured, such as Vincent D’Agosta. The huge breakthrough Pendergast had in his life in the last novel, where we learned he actually had children, was a non-factor in this book. For Pendergast fans, this book is not ideal.
The plotline itself is average at best. Corrie Swanson detects ancient cannibalism and hidden crime in a remote city, and Pendergast comes to her aid. While she’s uncovering the mystery, Pendergast attends to a string of brutal arson attacks in the city. Swanson’s life is repeatedly threatened. Meanwhile, Pendergast learns of a long-forgotten possible connection to their cases; many years ago, Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde had met in that city, just after the crimes had taken place. Pendergast and Swanson work independently to get to the bottom of the case, and eventually do. Again, the plot is average; it’s interesting enough to get you to finish the book, but not so much so that you’d call it a must-read.
I think a reason I didn’t enjoy the book as much was because I’ve been in the middle of the Song of Ice and Fire series, which contain huge volumes with unbelievable amounts of detail. Although the plot development is slow, it’s incredibly rich and exciting. The writing is very, very detailed; perhaps it made me judge this book a little harsh. Speaking of this series, I just finished the second book, A Clash of Kings, and I intend to do a review on that very soon.
The past few Pendergast books have been very exciting and gripping, and they’ve all featured the characters Pendergast fans love. White Fire took a break from that, so this book didn’t please me too much. It’s not bad by any accounts, but I would rate it as one of the poorer Pendergast books (there’s really only one other that wasn’t great). If you’re a fan of Pendergast, I’d recommend reading it for the usual writing brilliance of Preston and Child, but if you aren’t, I’d simply recommend passing on it; you won’t be missing out on much. I’m rating this book a 7.5/10; it’s not bad, but it’s not as great a work as I’ve come to expect from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.