Still Life with Crows

Pendergast, #4

Source: Published rating

A small Kansas town has turned into a killing ground.

Is it a serial killer, a man with the need to destroy?

Or is it a darker force, a curse upon the land?

Amid golden cornfields, FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers evil in the blood of America's heartland.

No one is safe.

"Because truth is the safest lie."

I'm in love - this book has now pushed itself to the top of the line of the first four novels from the talented team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Pendergast actually leaves New York and travels to a small, dying town that's covered in cornfields and old Indian Legend. When the dust settles, it's clear they have a demented killer at hand. At first the sheriff blames an outsider, but it soon become apparent it's someone nearer to them than that...the only question that seems to remain for Pendergast to solve, is the monster even human?

While New York and its impressive museum provided a playground of fascinating riddles and exploration options, I was ready for a breather and break from the big city. This small town with it's backward appeal was the perfect solution. Hopefully it's not just me who thinks of the creepiness from Children of the Corn whenever cornfields are involved. They're used effectively in a lot of horror movies and scenes for good reason. I loved the mystery of this story,but the setting makes it impressive with the fragile and uptight innkeeper Pendergast stays with, the greasy spoon Pendergast shocks by making a steak tartar (ew, but probably wise decision considering the food options.) There's also the town's side story of trying to become the choice of genetically engineered corn. This brings up research to ponder later when the book is closed.

Pendergast is kind of the James Bond of the FBI. Although I could do without the weird laying down and solving crimes scene where he almost supernaturally travels in the past (what is that?), the quiet mannered and effective detective is still addictive. Corrie as his assistant was a nice touch since the purple haired sidekick proved to be intriguing and fun (loved the ending with her). The crime is not solved merely by chance, but by visiting town residents and settling deep into the history of the place, from an aged Indian massacre, town politics and hidden mine systems. The killings are definitely brutal, and like Pendergast I couldn't find rhyme or reason on the solution. The ending was a delight because it shows something hidden under all our noses the entire time, a twisted twist for sure that made the book even closer to achieving perfection.

Even the sheriff's office proves more interesting than you'd first thing. At first I was ready to hate the overbearing sheriff with his brutish ways and sympathize with the simple Tad, but it grew even more complex than this one-dimensional plot trope, coming okay at the end.

Definitely my favorite of the first four, Still Life with Crows is creative with its story-line, keeps you guessing, has plenty of tense moments, dishes out a perfect ending, and features plenty of Pendergast. Throw in the creepy small town setting and some well-done side characters, and call me a serious fan of this book. Unlike The Cabinet of Curiosities, the generous page count is warranted with this one. 

   Cover Gallery:

   Author Extra:

The Secret Chapter

   Similar Reviews: