I’ve been a long-time fan of the Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, so I always grab their latest book as soon as it is released. Crooked River, the 19th book in the series has been a particularly rewarding read, not the least because we get a lot of Constance Green as well. As one of my most favorite characters in the series, I am especially happy when she has a chance to shine, which she does here really well.
The story is set on a secluded island off the west coast of Florida, where Pendergast is called to investigate a very strange case. A large number of strange shoes are washing ashore Sanibel Island every day, and what’s worse, the shoes are inhabiting legs, which is quite a disturbing sight not only to the locals but also to the few vacationers in the area.
There are no bodies accompanying the feet in the shoes, so Pendergast is the best agent to take on this very strange case. After all, strange is Pendergast’s middle name: he lives for strange, out-of-the-ordinary cases. Most cases he comes across are implausible, almost impossible to solve. Pendergast is initially annoyed to be summoned during his holidays, some well-deserved downtime moments after a previous hard case, but once he gets intrigued by the case, he can not stay away, especially when it is discovered that the people themselves chopped off their own feet.
Then there are, again, the usual local authorities (one particular person, in fact) that try to give Pendergast a hard time, but he is way above all that and proves them not only wrong but also kind of useless. I like his aloof ways; I can’t really get enough of that particular trait.
While initially Pendergast goes to the island alone, he is soon joined by Constance who doesn’t want to even hear about the gruesome case he investigates. Instead, she is working on her own side project involving a possible ghost. Also, in this book, we get to see a new side of Constance, that of G.I. Jane, which is also quite unlikely. But then again, Constance is still a mystery to most readers, even though the latest books have started to reveal parts of her history and started to help us get to know her just a little bit better. In Crooked Lane, Constance definitely stole the show. She was really the one I will remember mostly from this book. Oh, and the washed-up, chopped off feet.
I was glad to see the series returning somewhat to its roots; to that strange and mysterious, almost paranormal aura the first book like Relic and Reliquary had. The later books were somewhat different. Still great to read, but had I started with one of the books in the middle of the series, I might not have gotten truly hooked on the Pendergast novels.
I also happy to see the return of two previous members of Pendergast’s closer circles, FBI Agent Moon, and the often-annoying reporter who still hasn’t learned from his brother’s untimely death many books ago.
An interesting side note is the fact that Crooked River is loosely based on real events that happened in 2007 in British Columbia when a young girl was beachcombing when she found an Adidas shoe washed up. The said shoe had a severed foot inside it, which horrified that poor girl to no end. When the number of such shoes went up to 15, some matching with others but all found several miles away from each other, the story also became intriguing enough that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child decided to craft a mystery thriller based on it.
Crooked River by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
Series: Pendergast #19
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Also by this author: White Fire, Extraction, Blue Labyrinth, Crimson Shore, Beyond The Ice Limit, The Obsidian Chamber, The Lost City of the Monkey God, The Third Gate, The Forgotten Room, Full Wolf Moon, City of Endless Night