Crimson Shore by Preston and Child is another Agent A. X. L. Pendergast adventure. Pendergast is idle and an intriguing case of some missing wine peaks his interest because of the rarity of the wine itself. He is not on a case for the FBI, so he figures he can do some moonlighting as a private investigator is a small isolated village on the Massachusetts coast in a town called Exmouth, a short distance north of Salem and south of Newburyport. The crime occurs in an old and important abandoned lighthouse. The new owners of the lighthouse, a sculptor and his companion have renovated the old lighthouse and lighthouse keeper’s home into his workshop and home. He has collected a very extensive and valuable wine collection that is stolen one weekend when they are in Boston on a cultural weekend. His pay will merely be one bottle of a very very rare bottle of wine.
Soon we discover this is more than just the case of some missing wine. A body of a man is found buried behind one of the walls supporting one of the racks of wine. The missing wine is just a red herring to the real crime and horror that body will reveal. The first crime happened in Salem with the witch trials of the 1690’s and the escape of witches to the marshes of Exmouth. The next crime happened in the 1880’s when a steamer was lured onto the rocks so that the now poor and helpless residents could get some money from a wrecked ship. The third and horrendous crime of today involves mass murders. Pendergast and his assistant, Constance Green set out to solve this mystery and almost die for their efforts, except in the end we are not so sure of Pendergast’s survival.
Again to solve this mystery and to give us dramatic clarity of the past, Pendergast uses his skills with Chong Ran, a trance he puts himself into to see into the past. This is a lovely dramatic skill our authors use with Pendergast, just as Shakespeare uses a character to come on stage and fill us in on lots of action we do not need to see and make a play go longer than two hours.
This becomes a ghoulish romp through the marshes and once again our authors use an old Sherlock Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles as a reference to this story. There are many similarities that help us along in our own minds.
Crimson Shore is a wonderfully told story of a ghastly event that took place yesterday and continues into today.