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Novel Studies: "Cemetery Dance" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The latest Pendergast novel
                      The latest Pendergast novel

If you'd like to learn how to write a thriller, look no further than Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  Since their debut novel Relic, they have been right up there with Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Richard Matheson for writing high intensity, scary, thrillers.

Their latest novel, Cemetery Dance, takes on the zombie mythology and they do it well.  Agent Pendergast returns to solve the murder of journalist Bill Smithback (shocker!) and work with Detective D'Agosta to unravel the mystery behind a mysterious cult that inhabits woodlands outside New York.  The story moves fast and keeps the level of suspense up throughout.  It's highly recommended.

One aspect of the novel that writer's can study is the way the authors create an atmosphere.  When Pendergast and D'Agosta are tracking the zombie creature in the tunnels under the cult's ramshackle community, it's very creepy and intense.  Another thing to pay attention to is the way they surprise their readers.  In a series, many characters become staples and many authors are reluctant to kill off their children.  Not Preston and Child.  Smithback is one of the most beloved story people in the Pendergast saga and it was shocking to read of his demise in the opening chapter.  They also do a good job of setting up several possible villains to keep the mystery alive, and more surprises regarding who's responsible and who's involved.

An excellent read, run out and get Cemetery Dance right now and remember to read like a writer.