The Wheel of Darkness is the latest of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's books featuring Aloysius Pendergast. After dispatching Pendergast's brother Diogenes, Pendergast and his ward, Constance Greene, visit a Tibetan monastery from which a dangerous relic has been stolen.
Pendergast pursues the thief onto a luxurious cruise ship on its maiden voyage. A series of grisly murders on the understaffed ship sets the passengers to panicking, and creates conflict among the crew. Pendergast must track down the killer and the relic as the crew and ship hurtle toward perilous disaster.
The emotional stakes are not as high in this book as in previous installments. The reader does not feel that Pendergast and Greene are ever in real danger, and the secondary characters, though interesting, are not familiar like Smithback, Kelly and D'Agosta. Pendergast does not even know what the relic is for much of the bokk, so it is difficult to appreciate the imminent threat.
On the positive side, the pacing is excellent. The book hooks you at the outset and reels you in quickly. Pendergast is as unique and engaging as ever. Preston and Child are masters of the thriller genre, and The Wheel of Darkness is a worthy addition the the Pendergast saga.