is a novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child first published in 2010. It is part of their informal Agent Pendergast series
and the first novel in the Helen Trilogy story arc.
Twelve years after her death, Agent Pendergast learns a horrible fact about his wife - she was murdered. His grief over her loss renewed, he begins an exhaustive search to bring her killers to justice and learn just why she had to die.
This novel provides examples of:
- And This Is for...: Pendergast lists off all the wrongs the posse did or attempted to do to him and Hayward as he destroys their boats and bar.
- Attempted Rape: Tiny's posse tries to rape Laura in the swamp.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: John J. Audubon's artistic genius was the result of a rare form of avian flu that altered his brain chemistry.
- Boom, Headshot: "Yes, he is most certainly dead."
- Cliff Hanger: Pendergast arranges a hunting trip with Judson at the end of the book, but doesn't know that he's been the one trying to kill him throughout the entire novel.
- Darkest Africa: Helen's death took place in Africa and Pendergast's search for the truth begins there.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Inverted. Pendergast destroys Tiny's Bar in retaliation for him and his gang trying to rape Laura and kill the both of them.
- Driven to Suicide: How Pendergast deals with Slade.
- Exact Words: Pendergast promised Hayward he wouldn't kill Slade. He never said anything about getting him to do it himself.
- Faking the Dead: Charles Slade and June Brodie. Although the the former isn't faking death anymore by the end of the book
- Fate Worse than Death: Slade's affliction with the avian flu. Hence why Pendergast doesn't see the need to kill him himself and gets Slade to do the deed instead.
- He Knows Too Much: Why Esterhazy kills Blackletter, Blast, Ventura, and nearly Pendergast.
- In the Blood: Discussed about the Doane family. Everyone is convinced the family all went insane because it was in their blood. They were actually affected by the avian flu strain.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Helen was murdered by a trained lion used to fake a hunting accident.
- The Man Behind the Man: Judson Esterhazy is responsible for Helen's death.
- The Mole: Maurice
- Although this is later subverted in Cold Vengeance. He was never aware of Esterhazy's real intentions.
- Posthumous Character: Helen. Or so it seems...
- Red Herring: D'Agosta says he thinks the Doane family madness is a red herring.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Pendergast swears to kill those responsible for his wife's death.
- Seems to be the case for Esterhazy. Subverted when he attempts to kill Pendergast and winds up shooting D'Agosta and it turns out he's carrying out a much darker agenda.
- Room Full of Crazy: The entire Doane house, which certain rooms show the descent into madness of individual family members.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Sunflower, Louisiana. Everyone gets incredibly defensive if someone asks about the Doane family.
- Vigilante Execution: The sheriff of Sunflower executes Mr. Doane in his home after his entire family has gone mad and died and he has begun perpetrating unspeakable horrors.
- Viral Transformation: In mental capacity.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Hayward lays into Pendergast in when D'Agosta gets shot. She even slugs him.
- Xanatos Gambit: The result of Pendergast's confrontation with Slade. If he doesn't kill himself, then he's stuck living with the affliction that's eaten away at his mind so much that death would be a blessing for him. If Slade kills himself, then Pendergast accomplishes the goal that he set out for in the first place - namely, the end of the man who ordered his wife's death.