A techno-thriller reminiscent of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, Relic opens with a string of murders surrounding the American Museum of Natural History’s new exhibit, “Superstition”, supervised by Margo Green.
It’s an action-packed thrill ride that blends the best and worst of technology with the mysticism of ancient beliefs and more ancient creatures. One of the novel’s strength lies in its interesting set of characters: the brilliant Margo Green, the nosy journalist Bill Smithback, the Professor Xavier-ish Dr. Frock, NYPD Lieutenant D’Agosta, and the most intriguing detective fashioned unashamedly after Sherlock Holmes, FBI Agent Pendergast.
While Margo Green tries to make sense of the unexplained murders in their museum and wondering whether tribal superstitions can actually be real, Agent Pendergast and Lieutenant D’Agosta become fast friends while trekking underground and around the museum to expose a creature science may never be able to explain.
Margo Green is a headstrong character who doesn’t back down when she knows she’s on the right track. Bill Smithback has a very annoying tendency to stick his shadow where he’s not wanted, but his presence and loyalty comes in handy when he faces of a beast to save a friend.
The most interesting character (for me, especially) is, without a doubt, Agent Pendergast, who knows how to don disguises and surprise even D’Agosta. Even when Pendergast is taken off the case by his superiors, he continues to put his life on the line to solve the mystery. Like a gentleman with a silver tongue and gentle charm, Pendergast smooth-talks anyone to get a statement or evidence. Watching him work and outwit unwilling witnesses is like watching the World Cup.
When I first read “Relic”, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was just the beginning of a universe crafted by the dynamic duo of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I would still be seeing Margo Green and the rest of the crew in “Reliquary”, and other books like “Thunderhead” where Bill Smithback has an amazing archeological adventure. Pendergast’s past also appears in his own series (with cameos from his other “friends”).
If you want adventure that will get your adrenaline running, a mystery that will take more than one sitting to solve, and characters that are both real and larger-than-life, then, you should definitely read Relic.