White Fire


I've read the first novel of the Pendergast series, Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, when it first came out in the 90s. It didn't impress me much, at least not enough to check out another Pendergast novel. I'm assuming I didn't like it because I remember hardly any of it. I have the enviable skill of being able to mentally block out books I don't like. It is a helpful superpower in which only the political rants of Anne Coulter seem to be immune to. Anne Coulter is my Kryptonite. But my talent is fairly reliable with anything else. When the recently published White Fire came under my radar as being the 13th book of the series, I figured I might as well return to it. After all, the novels seem to be popular enough to last two decades.

I must admit White Fire was fun, albeit average fun. I do remember Relic as having supernatural elements. Yet White Fire is a fairly straight mystery. Pendergast is a somewhat eccentric FBI agent with Sherlockian perception and a disregard for the unconventional. He also seems to have amassed a loyal range of sidekicks and researchers. The main character in this novel is not Pendergast but a young forensic science student and Pendergast protege, Corrie Swanson, who he has helped in previous books. There is a lot of references to characters and events for the reader who has kept up with the series yet White Fire stands well on its own. The basic premise is that Corrie is researching the history of a 19th century string of grizzly bears attacks in an old frontier town for her university thesis. That frontier town is now a winter resort for the wealthy and her investigation is not only stirring up the town elite but pointing to a bigger mystery.

I found it very entertaining. Yet I also felt it was slightly contrived. There are lots of set-up situations with sane people acting illogical. The main violator was Corrie Swanson who, for a person who is supposed to be quite bright, has a habit of doing really stupid things that would only happen if you needed it to move on the plot line like going out alone in a blizzard or ignoring the signs that say, "Caution, Do not feed the homicidal maniac". Pendergast is more interesting but he seems to have been placed a little on the back burner for this installment. But I must admit I now have an urge to go back to some of the older books.

So overall, it is a very fun read. Despite the wintery background, I would label it as a good summer read for the beach or maybe even by the fireplace at a ski resort. You really don't think you'll find me on a snowy hillside trying to break my neck, do you? I'll read. You go out there and ski, Mr. Bono.