When a team of archaeologist are brutally murdered, all that remains are some battered boxes of relics and plant specimens. When they reach NY, the are locked away and forgotten in a museum. Just days before a massive new exhibit opens, people start turning up dead. Rumors of the “museum beast” spread around the staff. Margo Green, a grad student, uncovers a link between the failed expedition, the recent kills, and an odd figure on display for the first time. Will she be able to figure it out before the menace strikes again, or will she be too late?
Relic (Pendergast # 1) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Published in 1995 with 480 pages. For this review, I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by David Colacci and ran for a total of 13 hours and 5 mins.
So, the first time I read Relic was way back around 2003ish. Back then was the very start of my book reviewing – then in the form of book journals – and my reviews were pretty…. well, primitive is the first word that comes to mind actually. The review was just a few sentences long, if you can even call it sentences, and basically looked something like this:
THIS BOOK WAS AWESOME!! LOVED IT!!! 5 STARS!!!
Like I said…. very primitive. I’ve come a long way with reviewing since then, but that is neither here nor there. My point is that I read this book a long time ago. The Pendergast series is currently on book 17. I have read almost the whole series since then. The last few I need to still catch up to. Somewhere around 2009 (give or take a year), I saw that the audiobooks for the Pendergast series was read by an actor I absolutely adore, Rene Auberjonois! Instantly I thought, “OMG! What a perfect person to play Pendergast!!”. Rene’s voice is exactly the type of voice I had always heard in my head when reading the series. Soft and gentle yet powerful and commanding. I have been longing to listen to him read the books ever since I first found out about it. It was one of those things that has been “On The List” but never gotten around to actually doing it. Until now! I finally said, “You know what? Fuck it! I’m listening to the WHOLE DAMN SERIES!!!”.
I didn’t really want to buy the audio, because I already have 2 copies of this book. >.> I didn’t really need to have another version of it. I went to the local library to see if they had it. They did! But it was abridged. This was literally the face I made when I picked it up and saw it was abridged…
After disgustedly putting it back on the shelf and leaving, I looked to see how many credits I had on Audible. Fine. I will just have another version of it. I had a credit. Looked up Relic. Didn’t even stop to read anything about it, I was just ready to go. Got the audio. Downloaded it. Excitedly opened up to listen to it. Hit play. And…
It was not Rene doing the audio. *Points to above picture of facial expression* Ok, well, I have this audio now. Rene apparently didn’t start doing the audio for the series until a couple of books in. Ok. That’s fine. I guess. I mean…. I wasn’t super pleased with that but I wanted to start at the beginning of the series since it’s been so long since I’ve read them.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an archeologist when I grew up. I used to fantasize all the time about finding ancient artifacts and all the crazy adventures of trying to track down these long lost items. I can’t stand the sun and the heat, and bugs drive me crazy (not the cool bugs that are fun to look at, I’m talking about the flying buzzing jerk bugs that dive bomb your eyes and ears and /or fly up your nose and has a thousand relatives doing the same), so my dreams of archeology was crushed pretty early on. I have always lived vicariously through books- fiction and nonfiction- that had archeologist, archeology, expeditions, etc. in it. Relic hit a lot of those marks with me and I was absolutely in love with it.
The book starts out with an expedition looking for a hidden tribe in the Amazon. They find some artifacts that are unlike anything ever found before. Then people on the expedition start to vanish. The leader of the expedition packs up the items, and sends it back to the museum he works for in NYC. The expedition is never heard from again. Dun dun DUUUUNNNNN. So right off the bat there are a lot of things I’m loving, I’m hooked immediately, and the book has only just begun.
Then we move to present day, at the museum the expedition came from. I love natural history museums, I could spend forever just wandering around, drooling on everything while making grabby hands at stuff I can’t touch. I absolutely loved the settings for Relic. The way the authors described the locations, both the Amazon and the museum, it made me really feel like I was there, doing the work right along with the characters in the story. You could tell the authors were very familiar with the inner workings of a museum and that first hand knowledge really help you feel like you are part of the story.
AS IF all of that wasn’t enough to hit every mark for me, Relic is also a creature feature horror! 😀 The story revolving around the creature was terrifying and extremely creative. I remember the first time I read the book and got to the explanation of the creature, I was really caught off guard and I’m pretty sure my mind was blown. My mouth just hung open in shock. And the very ending? Holy crap…
At first, the characters of Relic seem pretty familiar. You have the good girl and her mentor who accidentally get caught up in the trouble, you have the harden NYC police officer with a no bullshit attitude. You even have the asshole head director of the museum who makes life for the main characters a pain almost 24/7. But then comes Mr. Pendergast, and everything stops. He arrives almost half way through the book and instantly steals the show. And it’s weird, because he isn’t even the leading star of Relic. He is vague. He is quiet. He gives nothing away as to what he is thinking and feeling. You don’t even know his full name. Yet his presence is commanding and you feel the power radiating from him. A mystery, an enigma, and you feel drawn to him, wanting to know more about this man.
Like I said earlier, when I re “read” Relic, I did it by listening to the audio narrated by David Colacci. I was not in love with Mr. Colacci’s performance. It wasn’t bad, exactly… it was just… so different then what I had envisioned in my head as the main characters voices, especially D’Agosta and Pendergast. D’Agosta sounded so much older then I could have sworn he was. Pendergast sounded so deep when I thought he was supposed to have a softer voice. I don’t know. Am I just being picky and biassed after 15+ novels with these characters?? I honestly don’t know. But Colacci’s performance just didn’t seem to fit the characters.
Re-visiting Relic, I was reminded of all the reasons I loved the book the first time around. A wonderful creature horror story with characters, locations, and themes you can really sink your claws in to. Even though I wasn’t wild about the narrator, I still enjoyed listening to this audio. Book or audio, it really doesn’t matter. Relic is an outstanding horror book and a great start to the Pendergast series.