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Literature / Cold Vengeance

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Cold Vengeance is a novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child first published in 2011. It is part of their informal Agent Pendergast series and the second novel in the Helen Trilogy story arc.

Pendergast has tracked those responsible for his wife's death, except for one key player who still remains in the shadows. He figures out who is behind it all when he receives a convenient invitation to a hunting trip in the most remote parts of Scotland - the perfect place to commit murder. In what he thinks will be the final confrontation, Pendergast finds he's only scratched the surface of a much larger conspiracy.


This novel provides examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Pendergast discovers that Helen has lost her hand since he last saw her, presumably related to the incident where she faked her death.
  • Always Save the Girl: Esterhazy counts on this trope to lure Pendergast to him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: After what he puts her through, Constance calmly tells Esterhazy that she is going to kill him. When he asks if that's a threat, she flatly tells him it's a simple fact. Sooner or later, she'll kill him for what he's done.
  • Born Lucky: Esterhazy manages to get away from Pendergast twice throughout the novel thanks to pure dumb luck.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title not only refers to Pendergast's Roaring Rampage of Revenge over what happened to his wife, but also to the climax, which takes place over the ship Vergeltung, (the German word for "Vengeance"), where if one falls of they'll risk freezing to death in the icy waters below.
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  • The Dreaded: The Covenant is this to Esterhazy. Pendergast himself over also winds up becoming this to him due to him being an Implacable Man.
  • Fingore: Constance nearly has her thumb cut off by Falkoner as incentive for Pendergast to tell everything he knows. He's killed by Esterhazy before he can start cutting through the bone though.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Betterton is asked this just before his murder.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Realizing that he'll be killed for his failures anyway, Esterhazy kills the remaining members of the Covenant aboard the Vergeltung and frees Pendergast.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Subverted. D'Agosta's search for Pendergast's whereabouts after hearing news of his friend's "death" winds up unintentionally serving as something for to Esterhazy to investigate. However, Pendergast uses this to get the drop on him. Esterhazy still manages to get away though.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Esterhazy leaves Pendergast for dead in the bogs, figuring there was no way for the agent to extract himself from the quicksand.
  • Not So Stoic: Pendergast's normally cool demeanor completely breaks down at times, after severely eroding in the previous novel.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Esterhazy lures Pendergast to a hunting trip in Scotland to murder him.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Pendergast is officially declared dead after they cannot find his body in the Scottish bogs. Corrie writes a touching eulogy on her website for him.
  • Redemption Equals Death: This occurs with Esterhazy at the very end. He betrays the Covenant late in the novel, only to die at the very end.
  • Torture Technician: Falkoner, who's also an all-out sadist.
  • Twin Switch: How Helen survived her death. It was really her twin that was mauled to death by the lion 12 years prior.
  • Wham Episode: Pretty much the entire last chapter. Pendergast is finally reunited with Helen, they're ambushed by members of the Covenant, Esterhazy is killed, Helen is abducted, Pendergast's butler Proctor is shot trying to stop them, and Pendergast himself is heavily wounded in the process.
  • Wham Line
    Esterhazy: You want an answer to your question? Here is is. I never did murder Helen. She's still alive.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Again, the last chapter.