Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
The Cabinet of Curiosities
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Time Warner, 640 pages

The Cabinet of Curiosities
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have collaborated on other novels: The Relic, Mount Dragon, and Reliquary. Preston is the author of two non-fiction works, Dinosaurs in the Attic and Cities of Gold. His brother is Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone, which inspired Mount Dragon. On his own, Child has collected and edited a number of ghost and horror story anthologies, including Dark Company and Dark Banquet.

ISFDB Bibliography: Douglas Preston
ISFDB Bibliography: Lincoln Child
SF Site Review: Reliquary
SF Site Review: Riptide

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

In a marketplace filled to overflowing with serial killers, FBI agents, and mysterious murders, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have found a way to make their thrillers stand out. Start off with the unlikely heroine of Nora Kelly, not-too-successful archeologist and employee of the New York Museum. Add a grisly cache of skeletons -- the victims of a serial killer who lived almost 100 years ago. And polish the premise with a smooth, brilliant, uncanny Fed unlike any seen before, and you've got the making of one taut mystery.

Special Agent Pendergast (and exactly how "special" he is becomes more apparent with every page) seems to appear from nowhere and light soundlessly in Nora's career path. Pendergast wants her help to uncover the identity of the murderer responsible for the 36 sets of remains found during a building excavation. Nora has different goals in mind, but she finds herself sucked into the irresistible force of Pendergast's will. It may well mean the end of her association with the museum. For her lover, William Smithback, it is the story of a lifetime and though it may be a deadly one to pursue, he cannot quit now; solving the puzzle may be his only hope to win him back Nora's trust.

It's a unique band who set out to track down a killer from the past, even as the bizarre mutilation murders begin again in the city. Bureaucracy and political power are working against them; at times, they seem to be working against each other. The combination of their special knowledge -- and their flaws -- represent the only hope of stopping a madman from achieving his ultimate, horrific objective.

Child and Preston weave the story into delightful tension with individual and overlapping points of view that make the characters more than merely interesting mannequins, but integral pieces of the action as a whole. Segments revealing a glimpse of the killer tighten the screws without ever giving up a solid clue to his identity. Similarly, readers learn a scrap here and a shred there shedding some light on the remarkable, elusive Pendergast.

Nora, Smithback, and Pendergast are no strangers to Preston and Child's legion of fans and The Cabinet of Curiosities is the perfect setting to bring them all together. The same hint of the paranormal permeates this novel as in their previous works. Readers should be delighted to know Pendergast, that smooth Southern gentleman with the questionable background, returns in Still Life With Crows, the pair's next thriller.

Maybe it's the touch of "otherworld" or the relentless pace, but the authors manage to turn a hefty novel into a breakneck read. Or, maybe it's the strange attraction/repulsion of these cabinets that draws the reader in so very deep. Child and Preston have a way of making the possibility that each of us might become a pathetic attraction ourselves seem just a little bit too conceivable...

Copyright © 2003 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide