The Cabinet of Dr. Leng
(A Pendergast Novel)
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing
(January 17, 2023)
The tremendous new thriller in Preston & Child’s #1 bestselling series features FBI Special Agent Pendergast and Constance Greene in their most extraordinary circumstances yet.
AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY
Astoundingly, Constance has found a way back to the place of her origins, New York City in the late 1800s, leaping at the chance, although it means leaving the present forever.
A DESPERATE OPPORTUNITY
Constance sets off on a quest to prevent the events that lead to the deaths of her sister and brother. But along the road to redemption, Manhattan’s most infamous serial killer, Dr. Enoch Leng, lies in wait, ready to strike at the slightest provocation.
Meanwhile, in contemporary New York, Pendergast feverishly searches for a way to reunite with Constance—but will he discover a way back to her before it’s too late?
I enjoyed the true commitment-to-genre ending of Bloodless, the previous Agent Pendergast novel. I was expecting a feint to a mundane explanation for the events of that story, so was pleasantly surprised when Preston & Child went for it, so to speak. Naturally, I was looking forward to The Cabinet of Dr. Leng, as a continuation of that cliffhanger, and was delighted when I got the chance to read an eGalley ahead of the pub date, courtesy of Net Galley. As many readers of the Pendergast novels might guess, The Cabinet of Dr. Leng is the middle book in a trilogy of sorts. (The authors are calling it a quartet, as it expands upon the Dr. Leng story told in my favorite entry in 21-book (so far) series, The Cabinet of Curiosities.)
The novel sets in motion four main plot threads. A distraught Pendergast needs to find a way to follow Constance into the parallel world experiencing a 1918 timeline now that the machine that transported her there has been destroyed. Agent Armstrong Coldmoon, after finally getting his new assignment, investigates a murder on a Lakota reservation. Vincent D’Agosta, similarly, is investigating a murder in the New York Museum of Natural History. Finally, Constance Greene—intent on rescuing her young siblings and the alternate young version of herself from the ravages of society and the deadly depredations of Dr. Leng himself—reinvents herself as a countess navigating high society in the Gilded Age to put herself within Leng’s social orbit.
Pendergast worries that Constance is no match for the brilliant and merciless Dr. Leng, and that her plan for revenge will result in her own death. Sure enough, Leng soon becomes suspicious of the “Countess” and begins to question her identity and motives in a cat and mouse game that soon becomes deadly. As the individual plots begin to overlap and connect to varying degrees, it becomes clear that the book would end without a resolution, basically “to be continued.”
I usually don’t spend a lot of time going over the plot of a book in my reviews since the synopsis (and back cover text) covers it well enough, and I worry about unintentional spoilers. The Pendergast books, are more of an ongoing story, with multiple trilogies within the almost two dozen volumes. The characters and situations evolve and change without a reset-to-square-one of other long-running book series. Event the first and second books in the trilogies provide a satisfying reading experience despite the fact that all the plot threads aren’t resolved until the third book, to varying degrees. If you are a long-time fan of the Pendergast books, you know what to expect.
Barring a final book stumble, the Dr. Leng trilogy (quartet) is a set up to be my favorite of the Pendergast trilogies. The Cabinet of Dr. Leng is an engrossing and satisfying read despite its status as a middle book. Nevertheless, the wait for the ultimate resolution will be excruciating. If I had to make a prediction, I expect Enoch Leng will find his way from his world into ours, and may live on as a formidable foe going forward—a psychopath out of time—for Constance and Pendergast.
Note: I received a free eGalley of The Cabinet of Dr. Leng from Net Galley in consideration of an unbiased review.
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