Still Life with Crows
Still Life with Crows
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- This production would have been better without the intrusion of the occasional (and too loud) underlying music, which is made completely unnecessary by René Auberjonois's fine performance. He breathes believability into the very different main characters, troubled 18-year-old Corrie Swanson and the older, odd Special Agent Pendergrast. Together they investigate the ritual murders of several people in a Kansas town. The story rushes to a disturbing conclusion, the plot filled with turns along the way. The abridgment has left a story both coherent and thrilling. S.D. 2004 Audie Award Finalist (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
June 2, 2003
That FBI Special Agent Pendergast, one of the most charismatic thriller heroes in memory, dominates this latest novel from Preston/Child is the good news; that he's working the least interesting case of his literary career (other outings include The Cabinet of Curiosities
and Reliquary) is the bad. An unusual serial killer is wreaking havoc in a small corn-growing town in Kansas; he leaves outlandish signatures, such as a mutilated body within a circle of crows on stakes and a ring of broken corn stalks. On his own initiative, Pendergast, no stranger to bizarre murders, shows up to investigate, and the authors make much hay from the contrast between the lean, infinitely refined and impossibly erudite Pendergast, a distinct descendant of Sherlock Holmes, and the down-home milieu he finds himself in. As if to emphasize his ancestry, the authors give Pendergast a Watson here: one Corrie Swanson, a rebellious, pierced and tattooed teenage girl whom he hires as his driver and guide. Further killings occur, which rumor and Pendergast tie to a 19th-century massacre of a band of outlaws by Indians. (As Pendergast explains to Corrie, he arrives at this conclusion through a "form of mental concentration, one of my own devising, which combines the memory palace with elements of Chongg Ran, an ancient Bhutanese form of meditation.") Not surprisingly, the relatively hick local cops don't like Pendergast, nor do the local politicians, who hope their town will be chosen for a lucrative experiment in genetically modified crops. When Corrie is dragged off to the killer's hideaway in a massive cave system, however, cops and Pendergast unite in an extended underground cat-and-mouse chase that will entertain readers despite their likely disappointment at the absurd, even ludicrous, identity of the villain. This may be minor Preston/Child, but it is major Pendergast; those for whom he's the
cup of tea will drink deep.
September 26, 2011
When a Kansas farming community is beset by a series of unusual murders, eccentric FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds himself navigating cornfields and dealing with hostile local cops in order to unmask the killer in this fourth installment in the thriller series from Preston and Child. Although narrator Scott Brick takes a little while to hit his stride—some of the voices he lends to supporting characters are generic and his Midwestern accents are at times questionable—his narration proves effective and many of the characters he creates are colorful and appropriate. Among the highlights are his chilling depiction of the book’s mysterious killer and his rendition of an arrogant scientist researching genetically modified corn. While not every
aspect of this production qualifies as a home run, Brick’s significant talents shine through and make for an enjoyable
listening experience. A Grand Central paperback.
October 6, 2003
This latest Preston and Child thriller, even in abbreviated form, offers gore galore, mutilations, bizarre ritual murders, an obstreperous sheriff, a young woman in jeopardy, a town consumed by terror and a spooky local legend—in short, an abundance of traditional suspense novel ingredients. Compensating for this apparent lack of imagination is the thriller's remarkable hero, Special Agent Pendergast, who's on leave from the FBI. This somewhat ethereal, cerebral specialist in macabre murders is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Mulder of The X-Files
, but with his courtly Southern manner and combat expertise, he's very much his own man. Narrator Auberjonois, a familiar stage and screen presence, uses an appropriately silky accent and a playfully sarcastic tone for Pendergast. Auberjonois is equally successful with the other characters, especially the hard-headed but good-hearted Sheriff Dent Hazen, who emerges as a Wilfred Brimley minus the bluster; 18-year-old town rebel Corrie Swanson; and the killer, whose method of communication would challenge any vocal interpreter. Equally important, Auberjonois narrates the tale with the sort of mesmerizing intensity that can, and does, turn a fairly familiar yarn into a scary campfire chillfest. Simultaneous release with the Warner hardcover (Forecasts, June 2).
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