My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had a lot of mixed feelings about this one and up until the end it was a 4 star read so I put it at 3.5 stars. I usually love the Pendergast novels but this one had some issues, at least for me. Partly because Pendergast was a secondary character in his own series, which I would have been okay with IF the major character had been interesting. Corrie should have been interesting. She’s one of Pendergast’s broken wing rescues, going to John Jay and looking to win a coveted (and expensive) award for an original thesis. Corrie came from a broken home with an alcoholic parent so your typical underdog and a in theory, a strong female character.
Too bad it’s only in theory. Corrie is paranoid about Pendergast being given credit for her thesis – the grizzly bear related death of miners back in the 1800s in Colorado at what has become a ski resort playground for the uber-wealthy. She resents him spending money to help her (which I guess we’re to assume she’s finding it condescending and/or misogynistic but Corrie’s not deep enough for that sort of exploration). And she does stupid thing after stupid thing (even acknowledging it’s stupid when she does it). I’m not sure if I’m supposed to wave it off because she’s young (and admittedly the young do stupid things) but seriously it was hard to take her seriously as a cop/FBI wanna be or as a strong woman when she does one moronic thing after another (even if she was doing it to spit an overbearing male figure, then maybe that should have been clearer it was her motive) especially when she breaks the law a number of times, including landing in jail. She's whiney and like a cheese grater to the skin, definitely not one of the better or more interesting female characters these two authors have given us.
Once Corrie arrives and begins digging into it, she learns there is something darker than a grizzly bear killing and eating these miners (it isn’t hard to figure out what) and it a secret the town’s prominent family is willing to kill for.
What was cool about Corrie’s story was that it was linked to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde and in fact that’s half of Pendergast’s storyline in this. He’s investigating the lost Holmes story which was spawned by a conversation Doyle and Wilde had after Wilde had been in the mining town. His other storyline concerned the serial arsonist that’s burning down the wealthiest homes in town with their owners in them.
Honestly it was very readable. My problem with the ending is that it’s so manipulative and Corrie has to be so foolish to make it work, you have to do mental back bends to make it work given how we’re supposed to perceive this character. I wish I had liked this one better but still, this is one of my favorite series. I love Pendergast as a character (and having hints of Holmes in with him really made me happy).
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