A Word's Worth originally started as more a holding-place for memorable quotes (books, movies, conversations), with random musings about books or movies. Evolving into a truer book blog, it now features reviews and reading-related posts. Also featured are writings that the blogger finds relevant, creative, interesting, or simply decides to post.
Today, I've got something super special in store for you -- and it's something I'm really excited about! One of my college buddies, who is also a huge reader (actually, this year he's kicking my butt on the reading front, which has us both shocked), has started a book blog of his own, and is hosting his first author event. What's so cool about it, is he's also able to cross-post his content, and I'm getting to host my first ever guest review! As well as some other cool stuff. So sit back, and enjoy the awesome ...
White Fire Preston & Child Grand Central, 2013
Review by Steven White
Corrie Swanson needs to make a huge splash on her thesis, as
she’s competing in John Jay College’s Rosewell Prize for Outstanding thesis and
a junior, like her, has never won before.After a few failed attempts to pitch ideas to her advisor, aconversation with the College’s
museum/library coordinator leads her to an interesting tale: Oscar Wilde, famed
author, heard tales of bear attacks in Roaring Fork, Colorado, in which the
bears devoured the victims.Thinking
that she could provide a huge contribution to research in the area of animal
markings left on bones, she forces her advisor’s hand into approval and sets
out to the rich tourist trap of a town.The ski resort city, while at first seeming to be friendly and willing
to lend her a hand, soon closes the proverbial doors on her.Things escalate, leaving Corrie in prison for
a simple B&E, and Pendergast steps in.Good thing too, because Corrie’s discoveries reveal that it was
something other than a bear that ate those miners a century before… and soon, a
serial arson killer joins the fray.The
slow burn becomes a raging fire and a race against time as three massive
storylines, along with a Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle thread, reach
an explosive, fiery finish.
Wow, what a ride!This might just be my favorite entry to the series since Book of the
Dead.Not to say there haven’t been some
great books since the end of the Diogenes trilogy,but this one really raises the bar.Fast-paced, chock full of murders, Sherlock
Holmes, shocking twists near the end, great new characters, and even a moment
of Pendergast showing some real emotion.
There are three main storylines in White Fire:
1. Corrie’s thesis project, based around the bodies of 9
miners who had been killed and eaten by *something* in the 1870s, when the town
was still a huge mining area rather than a ritzy ski resort -- and the powers
controlling the town fighting against her solving the mystery.
2. A serial killer and arsonist, murdering townie after
townie and burning their bodies and their homes, as Pendergast works with local
law enforcement (who are in over their heads with said killer) to catch them as
soon as possible.
3. The search for a lost Sherlock Holmes story that Conan
Doyle wrote after hearing a disturbing tale from Oscar Wilde at a chance dinner
All three of them are done well and integrated seamlessly
into one big novel.The ending is
cringeworthy, in a good way… it will have you on the edge of your seat as you
await the conclusion, which ties up well, and hopefully has brought a new
character into our beloved cast of recurring players.
Overall, I give this story a 5 out of 5
stars.One of my favorite reads of the
year, and one of my favorite entries of the series, right up there with Still
Life with Crows, Book of the Dead, and my personal number one, Cabinet of
ARC provided by publisher for review.
And now, for a Q&A session between my buddy and two of his favorite authors!
thank you so much for writing one of my favorite series of all times and
providing years and hundreds of hours of enjoyable reads (and rereads!), and
for taking the time out to answer a few questions for your fans!
Preston & Child: Thank you for having us and
for all those kind words! We look forward to your questions.
In White Fire, you decided to create a chance encounter between Oscar Wilde and
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that ended up being the missing link that Pendergast
needed to solve the case. What led you to choose these two authors? Was it
nerve-wracking to write an “offical” Sherlock Holmes tale to include in White
Fire’s plot, with the permission of the Conan Doyle estate of course? Was it
hard to jump into the mindset of an author long dead and try to make it sound
like it was in his voice? What did the estate think of your idea and eventual
story? Was Sherlock Holmes any inspiration during your creation and development
Linc: By happenstance, I learned about a true
incident in which Conan Doyle had dinner with Oscar Wilde at a posh London
hotel. This was mind-blowing; I couldn’t imagine two more different writers.
What could they have talked about? I knew there was a book in there somewhere,
and an immediate brainstorming session with Doug brought the bones of that book
it was a little nerve-wracking to write an officially sanctioned Sherlock
Holmes story. Holmes was, after all, one of the numerous inspirations for
Pendergast (as you surmise). And the Estate needed to see the opening of the
story before they would give permission. So for a week I did little but
surround myself with actual stories from the Holmes canon. Then I took a deep
breath and forged ahead with the first draft. Luckily, with Doug’s help,
everything worked out splendidly.
Doug: It was amazing to see how the idea
developed. Once Linc had come up with the opening concept, I suggested a
setting of Aspen, Colorado, because I thought the idea of Pendergast in his
black suit and vicuña overcoat knocking around that chic and fashionable ski
resort, like a fish out of water, was just too good to pass up. (We eventually
changed the name of the town to Roaring Fork, because we wanted to alter some
historical and geographical details.) I also suggested a back-story involving
man-eating grizzly bear attacks, the digging up of a historic cemetery to make
way for development, and a serial arsonist burning down multi-million dollar
mansions—with the families inside. All these elements were woven together to
create a seamless story. It was a great example of our writing partnership
working at its most creative pitch.
As a team, you both put a lot of thought into your titles. I remember
submitting ideas for Two Graves, but then loving the final title so much better
than my suggestions. What other ideas were thrown out while writing White Fire,
and what made you settle on White Fire?
Linc: Our working title for the book was BANE.
Our publisher wasn’t happy with that, and so we started the process of bouncing
possible titles back and forth. At the time, I was reading the biography of a
famous horror writer, and at one point in it the title of a very old book—I
believe it was a collection of poetry, but I’m not even sure it was ever
published—was mentioned in passing. That title was WHITE FIRE. It seemed
perfect to me for our use, referencing as it did both the snowstorm and the
dreadful arsons that together dominate the story (in addition to being an
arresting image on its own.) Our publisher agreed.
I’m constantly trying to get new readers to join the Pendergast fan club. I
want the series to keep going for years to come! I sometimes have trouble
describing the series to them though, as it’s so many things -- mystery,
thriller, history lesson, detective novel, horror story, techno/supernatural
tale… If you had to describe your works for a new set of readers, how would you
We have the same trouble ourselves, and I’ve noticed that bookstores put the
books all over the place in various sections. The Pendergast books contain a
taste of all those genres. But what brings it all together is the unique
character of Pendergast himself, who is a man out of his time, the embodiment
of old-fashioned values, codes of conduct, and civility that have largely been
lost in the modern age—combined with a strong sense of justice, a hatred of
bullies, and a love of fine food and wine.
Do you plan on bringing back the new character, Stacy? I really liked her! What
about some of our other cast members, like Nora Kelly, Margo Greene, Viola
Maskelene, or others? We all know you’ll bring D’Agosta and Hayward back in the
future already! Haha! What about Diogenes? Any chance he escaped death and will
After all these novels, we’ve created a kind of alternate reality, populated
with a wide cast of characters. Stacy is a wonderful character and I would love
to see her in another book, so I would say that is quite possible. Margo plays
a major role in the Pendergast book we are now writing. Nora will surely appear
in the future. Viola Maskelene… Well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but her
relationship with Pendergast is firmly over, and she will not appear in a
future book. As for Diogenes, I will only say this… did anyone see his dead
Is the next Pendergast book in the works already? Any tidbits you can share
about that one?
Linc: I wish I could, but we’re keeping the
details close to the vest for the time being. We can confirm, however, that it
will be a standalone book, and not the start of a trilogy.
Doug: A hint: a terrifying sequence takes place
in the ruins of an abandoned resort on the shores of the Salton Sea in
You’ve also co-written other books together, most recently the Gideon Crew
novels. When can we expect a third installment of that exciting series? Will
there ever be any more of a crossover other than Eli Glinn’s presence?
Doug: Yes, and the next Gideon Crew novel,
entitled THE LOST ISLAND, will be published in the late summer of 2014. It is a
story involving an ancient illuminated manuscript, a mysterious map, and a
harrowing journey through an isolated and forgotten corner of the Caribbean
Linc: There will be a fourth installment in the
Gideon series, and there will be what we think is a huge crossover into one of
our early novels. Our projected title alone probably says it better than I
could: BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT.
Do you plan on releasing any more short stories like Extraction? It was a fun story,
and a good way to help satiate some of your fans’ ravenous hunger for more
Absolutely. We are working on some wild ideas for a Pendergast story. Those who
subscribe to our newsletter, “The Pendergast File,” will get advance notice.
Mr. Child, I read The Third Gate last year and really loved it! Any plans on
writing another book with Jeremy Logan? I very much enjoyed his character and
would love to see him return! Or maybe one of the protagonists from Terminal
Freeze or Deep Storm?
Linc: Thank you so much! Yes, I am hard at work
on another novel featuring the ‘enigmalogist’ Jeremy Logan, and I’m very
excited about how it’s progressing.
Mr. Preston, I’d love to see another book starring Wyman Ford soon, or maybe a
return of Tom and Sally in one of those Wyman Ford books. Any updates on when
we’ll get another Ford book?
Yes. My next solo novel, entitled THE KRAKEN MISSION, will be published in May
of 2014. It stars Wyman Ford.
Lastly, as both of your started out as editors, do you have any tips on writing
for other aspiring authors? Did that experience as editors help you in your own
writing, or did you prove, like doctors, to be a “terrible patient” if you
Again, thank you so much for taking the time out of your
busy schedules of writing and being awesome to answer a few questions for your
fans! We (and by we, I definitely mean *ME!!!*) can’t wait for more Pendergast,
and honestly, anything else with Preston or Child on the cover. Thanks for a
fantastic new installment in the epic saga that is the Pendergast series, and
for more Corrie!
Our experience as editors definitely helped. Honestly, seeing what doesn’t work
in other people’s manuscripts is a great help, so we know what to avoid. That
may be even more valuable than figuring out what works. As for tips, my advice to
the aspiring writer is to write every day. Just as violinists must practice daily
and marathon runners must run, writers must write. It seems obvious, but you
would be surprised at how many writers only sit down to work once or twice a
week. You have to do it every day and you have to carve out a sacred, inviolate
period of time to do it in, and be sure your family and friends are instructed
not to disturb you during that time! My second tip is to get involved in a
writers’ group, where you read and critique each other’s work.
you for the great questions and for all your kind words about our books! We
love interacting with readers through email, which we answer
Okay, so I don't know about you, but I'm a little intrigued. And I don't even read these books! I love when people are excited about stories -- whether it's stories they're writing, or stories they're reading. Enthusiasm is the best advertising. And as if all this hasn't been enough awesome, there's also a GIVEAWAY! Yup, you can enter to win one of three copies of White Fire! Just follow the instructions in the rafflecopter below, and good luck!