VERSES FOR THE DEAD by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is book #18 in the wildly popular Agent Pendergast series.

When FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is assigned to a case in Miami Beach, Florida, it’s a mixed blessing. It’s just the kind of bizarre case Pendergast favors, but his new supervisor in the New York field office, Assistant Director in Charge Walter Pickett, is insisting that he work with a partner. And Pendergast, who loves to color outside the lines when solving a case, loathes having a partner and has managed to avoid that constraint for most of his career. He likes nothing better than going it alone, flying solo, operating as a lone wolf… well, you get the picture.

But as Pickett makes clear to Pendergast in a very funny scene in a sauna, the partner issue is a deal breaker. Either Pendergast agrees to work with the partner Pickett is assigning him, Agent Coldmoon, or he’s off the case.

Only the case is too weird and fascinating for Pendergast to pass up. A killer who murdered a woman and cut out her heart, then left it at the Miami Beach gravesite of a woman who committed suicide more than a decade ago in Maine. And along with the bloody, dripping heart, the killer left a cryptic note with a literary allusion that sounds remorseful, implies that there will be more killings, and is signed “Mister Brokenhearts.” So Pendergast tells his new boss he’ll accept his terms and work with a partner.

And he does, after a fashion. At first Pendergast’s like a bucking bronco, constantly trying to unseat his new partner Coldmoon. But over time, they develop a mutual respect and good working relationship. Although Pendergast never learns to appreciate the anathema-to-his-gourmet-palate camp coffee Coldmoon so treasures.

As more murders occur and more bloody hearts are left at gravesites by Mister Brokenhearts along with cryptic notes, Miami Beach goes on high alert. And seedy reporter Roger Smithback, the brother of unforgettable journalist William Smithback from earlier Pendergast novels, stokes the fires of public fear for his own benefit.

The case is chilling and challenging, requiring Pendergast not only to think outside the box, but also to box with alligators. And, finally… to reach out to a heart-sick killer from his own heart.

The colorful ambiance of Miami Beach is captivating. Pendergast is as inscrutable, honorable, and wickedly appealing as ever. And Coldmoon emerges as a complex, full-bodied character we hope to see again. Ditto for Roger Smithback.

A vastly entertaining addition to the Agent Pendergast series. Can’t wait for the next one!

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Thrillingly yours,

Kristy Dark


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