Perhaps I’ve read too many of the Pendergast series by Preston & Child, but I found Blue Labyrinth to be, well, just plain cold. That is, it didn’t draw me in or make me root for the eccentric protagonist, or anyone else for that matter. My feeling is that if you’re going to write a series about an unusual person, you need to reveal more and more of the man’s character, backstory, flaws and strengths to hold a reader’s interest. Instead, we continue to get slammed with non-stop and sometimes absurd action while the enigma that is Pendergast remains an enigma throughout, and a somewhat unpleasant one at that.
Special FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast comes from a long line of wealthy and mostly psychotic criminals, but he has dedicated himself to hunting down criminals presumably to make amends for his family’s predations, and has as many commendations from his superiors as he does reprimands for his go-it-alone missions. He lives alone in a creepy New York City mansion with many sub-floors and tunnels and a “ward” who appears to be a young woman but who also is apparently hundreds of years old (what?). His wife and true love died horribly years earlier and he has only recently learned that he has twin sons, one of whom is a criminal mastermind and the other hidden away by Pendergast to keep him safe from his, literally, evil twin. Blue Labyrinth starts out with the evil son appearing on Pendergast’s doorstep, , murdered and with an exotic turquoise stone in his stomach as the only “clue.”
Pendergast doesn’t waste a minute mourning the death of his son (and neither do we!), and instead leaps to the conclusion that an enemy is setting a trap for him, and instantly embarks on an adventure in which he falls into that very trap of what we must conclude is a man with more wealth and smarts than Pendergast! (Oh no! It cannot be! ) The rest of the novel (spoiler here) is spent in a race against time to find our hero’s enemy before he succumbs to a deadly poison that is sapping his life.
A strange subplot that eventually works its way into the main storyline is based, once again, in the Museum of Natural History where others of Preston & Child’s stories have been based. Are there no other evil sites Preston & Child can come up with? I mean, I loved that museum when I was a kid growing up in New York, so enough already. Also, it is inexplicable, to me at least, that Pendergast finds himself unable to either ask for help or to share information with his friends and allies, which usually causes death and mayhem as a result. I found myself too often snorting in disbelief instead of gasping in awe or terror, which to me is the indicator that this series is finished, at least as far as I’m concerned. And of the long and drawn out denouement, the less said the better.