Book Review: White Fire

White Fire

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Special Agent Pendergast arrives at an exclusive Colorado ski resort to rescue his protégée, Corrie Swanson, from serious trouble with the law. His sudden appearance coincides with the first attack of a murderous arsonist who–with brutal precision–begins burning down multimillion-dollar mansions with the families locked inside. After springing Corrie from jail, Pendergast learns she made a discovery while examining the bones of several miners who were killed 150 years earlier by a rogue grizzly bear. Her finding is so astonishing that it, even more than the arsonist, threatens the resort’s very existence.

Drawn deeper into the investigation, Pendergast uncovers a mysterious connection between the dead miners and a fabled, long-lost Sherlock Holmes story–one that might just offer the key to the modern day killings as well.

Now, with the ski resort snowed in and under savage attack–and Corrie’s life suddenly in grave danger–Pendergast must solve the enigma of the past before the town of the present goes up in flames.

* I’m catching up on my backlog of book reviews to write up — I originally finished this a few months ago, so my memory is admittedly a little foggy.  Thus, this review will be a bit short. *

I found White Fire to be one of Preston and Child’s better novels of late.  I have been a long-time fan of the duo, having read almost all of their books.  (I didn’t read one of their early ones and have skipped the Gideon series, but have read all of their other joint novels.)  A lot of their earlier novels were very good, then they hit a bit of a rough patch, and it seems that they have recently hit their stride again.

Preston and Child novels always feature something that seems supernatural, but has a logical explanation in the end.  White Fire certainly followed the pattern, but it didn’t feel like a cop-out in the end, as some of them have recently.  White Fire follows Corrie Swanson and Agent Pendergast as they investigate both a series of arsons and a very old cold-case, both taking place in a quaint, and very rich, ski town.

The mystery of the arsons was a very good read, and the cold case side-story was equally so.  I think something that’s held me back from truly enjoying a lot of the recent Pendergast novels has been the ongoing personal stories of the cast of characters.  I think, unfortunately, that there are a number of minor characters that I just don’t care enough about to want to read their ongoing life stories.  However, Corrie is a favourite of mine, so it was a pleasure to follow her in this book.  As well, I think another difficulty with the personal stories is that they continue over the course of several books, and these books come out only once a year and not all characters appear in them… so it can be hard to remember who’s who and what’s what.

All that being said, White Fire was a fantastic read and a great return to the strong storytelling I remember from the earlier days of this writing duo’s bibliography.  The mystery, both present and past, were engaging and captivating.  The characters, both returning and new, were a pleasure to follow.  And the resolution of the book tied up rather nicely with a very satisfying resolution to the mystery.

Hmm… all that was kind of vague, but I did read it several months ago.



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