Book Review: The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Science Fiction
Series: Book 21 of Aloysius Pendergast
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 17, 2023)
Length: 416 pages
Author Information: Website
I have read a few Preston & Child novels in the past, but never any in the Aloysius Pendergast series. Needless to say, I’ve always been drawn to its mysteries which often feature elements of horror and the paranormal from what I’ve been told. So even though The Cabinet of Dr. Leng is the twenty-first book in this impressively long-running sequence, I was excited at the opportunity to read it when offered a review copy.
That said, I soon realized that what I’ve done is jump unknowingly into the middle of a mini-arc and that much of the events of the story was already in motion, having been set up in the previous book Bloodless. Fortunately though, the authors do such a good job catching you up that the entire experience felt practically seamless for a newcomer like me. The book introduces Aloysius Pendergast and his love interest Constance, who has made a bold move in trying to change her past. Amazingly, her quest has brought her to late 1800s New York City where she plans on tracking down Dr. Enoch Leng, the monster who had taken everything she loved and destroyed her life. But even after disguising herself and covering her tracks, her enemy is a formidable foe who won’t be long fooled.
Meanwhile, back in the present day, Pendergast is determined to give Constance all the advantage he can. Enlisting the help of his friend NYPD Lieutenant Commander Vincent D’Agosta, they try to find a way back to her. And in the FBI, Pendergast’s colleague Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon is assigned to a bizarre case involving a murder and an attempted theft at a museum.
There are many threads unfolding here, and for the most part they remain separate, as expected for a larger story arc in progress. This simultaneously made things easier to follow but also was a source of confusion wondering how all the pieces are supposed to fit together. As I said, the authors are considerate in keeping the separate plotlines as straightforward and simply as they can, but there is another factor in play here: Time travel.
The Cabinet of Dr. Leng is a mixture of mystery, thriller, and science fiction. I knew this this wasn’t going to be your typical series, but I confess I was still taken by surprise when time traveling came into the picture. Now, time traveling stories and I have a tricky relationship. I’m usually all for them, but they almost always come with a caveat to ignore any plot holes or absurd explanations that might arise. I feel the book handles the logistics behind time travel and the concept of multiple universes well enough, but without spoiling anything, I also thought that in the process of laying everything out there were sections I felt were too drawn out or completely unnecessary. Sometimes it’s better to let your readers’ imaginations do the work, but that’s just my opinion based on personal preference and I do tend to nitpick a lot when it comes to time travel stories.
Also beware that once you start this book, you’ve pretty much committed yourself to reading the next one as well, as this is pretty obviously the first half of a two-parter. That would also explain how Coldmoon’s thread sort of just hangs there, and I assume his character will take on a much greater role in the follow-up. But there’s plenty more I also want to know, given how the book ends. Preston & Child have created a simply diabolical and creeptastic villain in Dr. Leng, and just thinking about what he did to Constance and her family makes my skin crawl. Some of our characters were left in quite a bind, and I will be waiting with curiosity to see what plot developments will emerge, what solutions will present themselves.
I like this series but I follow it in French. This is the next one I need to read.
Wow, so you’ve read most of the series then? That’s impressive, because there have been so many books!
It’s very brave of you to jump into the middle of such a big series, not sure I would have done that. But at least it worked out pretty well😁
Only for these authors I would do something like that! I’m not sure it was the best idea though, I didn’t know it was actually in the middle of a mini arc!
A novel that deals with time travel and avoids the usual pitfalls of the theme is one that merits attention indeed – even though it means that some more weigh will be added on an already burdened TBR… 😉
Thanks for sharing!
Yeah, time travel in books is tricky. I find the way it’s handled can either make or break a story!
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That might be too much of a genre mix for me
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I’ve been curious about this series each time I see a new book out but you’ve perfectly summed up my hesitation in jumping in, that I’d find myself deep in the middle of a longer running arc. 🙂
I probably should have done a little more research before diving in too! I have no problems starting in the middle of a series especially with these authors because I think they write each book to be stand alone enough for new readers curious about their work to jump on board. But they did a little something different with this one, I wish I had known that this was the second book of a mini arc!
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