Relicby douglas preston, lincoln child
The book that started the New York Times bestselling collaboration of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human…But the museum’s directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who-or what-is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?
Relic is a fascinating blend of science, mystery, and South American folklore. Lieutenant D’Agosta and FBI Agent Pedergast investigate a string of slayings by “The Museum Beast” at the New York Museum of Natural History. Margo, a graduate student working on her dissertation, and Smithback, a journalist writing a book about an upcoming exhibit, get involved as well. There are numerous other characters who play important roles in this story. The mere number of characters could have been overwhelming, but because each was so unique, it was easy to keep everyone straight.
I really enjoyed how the legend of the Mbwun curse started to become believable to the characters, when there was actually a scientific explanation for the beast’s origins. The history of the Kothoga tribe and their fear of the creature added to the atmosphere of the book. If decapitated bodies with the hypothalamus gland extracted wasn’t enough…
I liked Pendergast and D’Agosta. They were opposites, but worked together well. Pendergast is an interesting character because he seems to know a bit about everything. He defies the Southern Cop stereotype. Margo, however, doesn’t contribute much as far as personality goes. At least she’s tenacious about solving the mystery and willing to go up against the monster in order to save people. Smithback adds a bit of comedic relief. My favorite scene in the book was when people are stampeding to escape the exhibit and he eats hor d’oeurves while hiding under a table.
Preston and Child did a great job of creating suspense in the book. For example, they left me hanging for several chapters about what happened to one of the cops. At the end, they left me wondering for a little while about the outcome of Margo and Pendergast’s final showdown with the creature.
This was a problem for me, though. I understand that they had to leave me hanging for suspense purposes. The problem was that the creature was killed off-stage. The reader has to learn the outcome in dialogue rather than seeing it first-hand.
I have to admit I have seen the movie version of Relic many times. I had never gotten around to reading the book. Now that I have, I can’t say if the book or the movie was better, because they are so different. Pendergast isn’t even in the movie. Also, the way the creature is killed is totally different in the movie. I guess I would have to say that I like them both for different reasons. The movie has more action and fewer characters. The book has more anthropological details and scientific explanations.
If you haven’t ever read Relic or any of the other Pendergast novels, I strongly recommend them. I think this series would appeal to readers who like stories about DNA mutations, ravenous creatures, and smart investigators.
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