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on September 10, 2016
Awesome mystery again from Preston and Child. This books does not fail to entertain and keep you reading to the end.
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on April 14, 2017
Another great book by Preston and Child. Thrilling page turner with many unusual twists. I like the descriptions of the scenes from 100 years ago when these "Cabnets" were the museums of the times.
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on April 27, 2017
Arrived by the estimated date. Exactly as described.
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on July 27, 2017
content note: vivid dissection description, mental illness, human experimentation

It's been a few weeks and many books since I last read Preston & Child, and I had forgotten the sheer suspense and sense of impending doom these books can provoke for me. Sections had me up, needing to finish the chapter (and then the next few, as character point of view chapters interleave) instead of going to bed.

Beginning with the discovery of 36 young people killed in the late 1800s, apparent victims of some strange surgery, and then modern copycats, Pendergast teams up with a museum curator of anthropology, Dr. Nora Kelly (reluctantly on her part) to try to solve the case. Smithback returns, as Nora’s boyfriend, as always eager to scoop the news.

From museum archives, to a grand cabinet of curiosities, and learning about Pendergast's family and past, this was enchanting and enthralling, as well as raising ethical questions of the right to longevity, considering overpopulation, cost, exclusivity, etc.
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on May 13, 2003
This is the first book I've read by this writing team, though it will not be my last. Preston and Child work well together, and I'm interested in reading their solo work as well.
In this not-quite-contemporary setting (only one person has a cell phone, for instance), New Orleans FBI Special Agent Pendergast is inexplicably interested in the recent discovery of a charnel beneath a New York construction site. He builds a team of assistants: Nora Kelly, Utahan archaeologist determined to make a go of her once-in-a-lifetime chance at working at the world's greatest natural history museum; William Smithback, reporter aching for a Pulitzer (and a suit worthy of the acceptance ceremony); Patrick O'Shaughnessy, a sergeant in the NY Police Department, fifth generation cop at the mercy of a cruel and petty precinct captain; Proctor, his invisible and indispensable chauffeur.
These main characters, excepting Proctor, are well fleshed out and engaging, while Pendergast himself is an intriguing variant on the Sherlock Holmes-style detective. (These characters appear in other books by the same authors.) A healthy field of minor characters are also three-dimensional. Settings are vivid and evocative. Dialogue flows naturally. And bonus -- I even learned a little about urban archaeology and the scientific/fantastical collections of the title.
Very well done. I'm anxious to read more from these authors and to read more about these characters. If you are interested in an intelligent thriller rooted in NYC history, you will probably enjoy this too. If you like Caleb Carr, Iain Pears or Jack Finney, you will likely appreciate this masterful and gripping mystery.
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on November 5, 2002
I have a small list of "MUST READ" authors, and Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child are ON that list. 'The Cabinet of Curiosities' is easily one of my favorite novels from these two incredibly gifted storytellers. It also reunites 3 characters from several of their previous novels.
FBI Agent Pendergast is without-a-doubt one of my favorite characters in ALL of modern fiction...I'd go into details and explain more, but I'd need a whole lot more room than I have available here.
Journalist Bill Simithback, who is mostly referred to in 'Cabinet' as William, certainly provides a great deal to this tale, especially towards the end.
Nora Kelly, whom we first got to know in the fantastic, 'Thunderhead'.
All three characters play pivotal roles in what is at once a modern murder/mystery/thriller masterpiece with supernatural undertones. Has a mad scientist actually perfected a formula for extending life? Dr. Enoch Leng seems to be one of the most brutal and sadistic serial killers in American history, but he doesn't murder for the joy of taking life, his profoundly disturbing experiments come to light quite by accident when a century-old crime scene is uncovered in lower Manhattan. Agent Pendergast shows up out of nowhere with a curiously obsessive interest in the murders -- which we won't get to figure out until right towards the very end. He pulls Nora Kelly away from her duties at the New York Museum of Natural first she is totally puzzled at why she of all people is called in to help. What could Pendergast possibly hope to accomplish in solving this crime? Surely the killer has been dead for half-a-century by now...right? His connection to Enoch Leng and his bizarre scientific research is quite an interesting one, THAT'S for sure.
There are a few true surprises at the end of this tale, and getting there certainly WAS a journey well worth taking. ...
... Because like I said, I have a very small list of "Must Read" authors, and after having read ALL of their books thus far, they have EARNED that right in my opinion by continuously writing incredible novels of adventure & mystery. GREAT read!!
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on May 30, 2002
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's seventh novel has been a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait. It represents, without question, their best writing to date. As always, the scene is set with great skill, but now their talent for set piece drama has evolved into excellent characterization and superbly subtle plot development.
It would be difficult for me to describe the story without spoiling the plot, but I can safely say that "The Cabinet of Curiosities" is a diabolically twisted thriller. What starts out as a seemingly standard, albeit very creepy, serial killer mystery rapidly develops into something far more bizarre, and vastly more sinister. I read a lot, and it is rare that I am caught completely off guard by plot twists, but with one hundred pages to go I was hit with not one, but two! The authors deftly throw the reader off guard at a key moment, which makes the concluding chapters absolutely breathless.
As I alluded to earlier, the writing in this novel is outstanding; "The Cabinet of Curiosities" is much more thoughtful than their earlier novels, and significantly darker. While still showing their roots in the "techno-thriller" genre, Preston and Child have branched out into considerations of love, madness and morality. Whereas their earlier novels certainly told a great story, and contained tragically flawed characters, this novel makes an excellent stab at exploring the heart of darkness in a much more methodical, dare I say, literary, way.
Of particular note in this regard is the character of Pendergast. For those readers who are unfamiliar with "Relic" and "Reliquary", he is an FBI agent with remarkably refined tastes, and equally unorthodox methods. The best way I could think to describe him would be if you turned Hannibal Lecter into a good guy (while is in no way insinuating that he was ripped off, which he clearly wasn't). At any rate, he was always an intriguing character, I would even go so far to say that he was the authors' best to date, but he was also somewhat two-dimensional. Mystery is one thing, but it can come at the expense of character development. "In Cabinet of Curiosities", however, Pendergast has been given an enormous depth of personality, and his background has been revealed in such a way that deepens the mystery surrounding him even as it injects him with a sense of pathos. He is now a fully realized, and immensely interesting character that I look forward to encountering again.
Ultimately, "The Cabinet of Curiosities" will make a great beach read for the summer, but it is much more than that. It is a well-crafted, very suspenseful and deeply thoughtful novel that should ranks among the best popular fiction of the year, and I recommend it highly. Finally, my praise for this novel should in no way be construed as disparaging to the authors' prior books; I have bought, read, re-read, and enjoyed the all. It is just that in this novel, Preston and Child have taken their writing to a whole new level and I felt it bore mentioning. If you haven't read their other novels do yourself a favor and order them at the same time as this one.
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on June 15, 2002
Preston and Child have provided nothing but great books since their first cooperative effort in 1995 (The Relic). Despite the high quality of their previous efforts, they've managed to make subtle improvements with their latest work.
I won't discuss the plot of the book other than to describe it as a "techno-mystery-thriller", but I will say that it generates the usual problem associated with reading a Preston/Child book; that is, it's very difficult to find a good place to stop reading for the night. I made the mistake of starting the last 400 pages of the book after dinner the day after I began reading it, and by the time I closed the book at 6:30 am... well, let's just say I missed my class that day. The best thing about Cabinet is that each individual chapter is made interesting despite the level of intrigue associated with the current plot developments (even more so than their previous books).
There really isn't much else to say. I don't read many different authors (I find glaring flaws in the works of most popular authors), but Preston and Child continue to hold my interest with interesting characters, exciting plot twists and carefully crafted atmosphere. Definitely a must read for anyone who isn't put off by significant violence.
-David Trammell
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on April 6, 2004
I found this book a disappointment. I cannot tell if it is because I read it right after Relic, by the same authors, which had very favorably impressed me. This opus sees the comeback of several characters that appeared in previous Preston & Child books (Special Agent Pendergast from Relic, Nora Kelly from Thunderhead and Smithback, appearing in both) as well as the environment of the N.Y. Museum of Natural History, but one does not get the impression of a coherent universe : the Museum's top brass is changed, as is the N.Y. mayor, one wonders where is Margo Green from Relic... and Pendergast is *Really* too much. Too wealthy, too smart, too able... all in all incredible, or should I say unbelievable? . Whereas Relic was a good horror thriller, including the nasty stroke at the end; the Cabinet of Curiosities demands really too much from the reader's goodwill and suspension of disbelief . The sequence of events leading to the serial killer going on a spree, and putting on his trail the only man able to find him out, and who, coincidentally, is ideally fitted for the task with all the necessary traits and who, moreover, is tied to him by bonds the reader will discover as he goes along... It is all too much for me. Perhaps you'll like it better than I did, if you are really fans of the genre or the authors.
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on July 14, 2003
Cabinet of Curiosities, the latest in a string of works by Child & Preston, involves the discovery of a mass grave in present day NYC -- the charnel house of a mad scientist on a quest for the secret of eternal life. Excellent premise, I'll give the authors that much credit. Also intriguing is the background of New York in the 1800's and the various "cabinets of curiosities" housed there -- lots of excellent resources for the authors. Unfortunately, the material could not prop up the bad writing and the poor characterizations of this novel.
After reading this novel, I have to wonder if I've actually read the same book that other reviewers are crowing about. I found the pacing of the novel extremely slow and the characters to be wooden and one-dimensional. Archaeologist Nora Kelly was mildly interesting, Smithback was atrocious! What newspaper would hire a guy like that? He was bumbling in every sense of the word, and not charmingly so. And Agent Pendergast? Despite his extraordinary gift of "memory crossing" (much too unbelievable, even for a story like this) I found him to be the most singularly dull character in the entire book. There was nothing original about this character whatsoever -- in fact, once the reader has finished with the first description of the man pulling up in his Rolls Royce, it's easy to predict every nuance of the character...his mannerisms, his dress, his living accomodations (at the Dakota, no less!), I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking, "Of course." And if he does possess the gift of "memory crossing," then why is there an investigation at all? It seems as though he could simply "cross" to the scene of the crime, and if he can affect people during that time period (as evidenced by him tossing a handful of coins to Mary Greene's little sister), then he should have easily been able to stop the killer before he actually murdered anyone.
Even the writing, at times, was painful and amateurish. Overall, this book is a waste of time to plow through -- the authors had an excellent resource and base for a story, but they blew it. Perhaps mixing characters from several previous books (as mentioned by other reviewers) was their downfall...I can't be sure, but I can be sure that I won't be going back to read any of their other work.
For an excellent historical mystery set in 1800's NYC, check out Caleb Carr's Alienist series. Excellent stories, superb characterizations, and solid writing technique.
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