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  1. I tried to read a different Pendergrast story (there are several and the Sunnyvale PL copy of “Dance of Death” must have been taken out. I only got to around page 50, as I didn’t see any reason to continue.

    Pendergrast himself is one of the “superior” men who seem to pop up in literature (even moreso than Holmes). Not only is he clever, urbane, and rich, he seems to have carte blanche from the FBI to poke his nose into everything.

    BTW it ws ARTHUR Conan Doyle. You may have been thinking of Alfred Tennyson, author of “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, “The Charge of the Heavy Brigade”, and ohter great poems,

    1. Ah! Thank you, Marc — now I don’t need to bother trying to read any of the other books. I’d wondered if the “Mary Sue” character of Pendergrast was as insufferable in all the previous books as well; now I know.

      Re Arthur/Alfred: how embarrassing! Thanks for the catch. Fixed now! :)

  2. (Note from Collie: This comment is reprinted from the original posting, with my replies in blockquotes)

    You never say when the story was written, or when it was supposed to take place. At least Holmes has the excuse that they were written over a century ago (except some of the last stories).

    Oh! Sorry about that. This book is supposed to be set in the modern day US. The amazing Pendergast is apparently a member of the FBI in earlier books, in fact.

    BTW, I haven’t read the stories in quite a while, but I don’t believe that Holmes ever resorted to the “broken watch” gambit.

    Mm, I admit I’m not sure any more myself either. I do remember Holmes at one point stating someone’s height very definitively, based on stride length and how high something was written, though. Since then I’ve discovered such data allows for an “envelope of opportunity” regarding guessing things like height or weight, but it certainly does not determine a perpetrator’s height to the exact inch, as Holmes would have us believe! ;)

    Also, remember Holmes was fooled a couple of times (once by a woman, Irene Adler), so he was never portrayed as completely infallible.

    To be fair, I exaggerated somewhat for effect — I know Holmes made mistakes sometimes in the stories. I guess that’s part of what bothered me about Pendergast, though — in the end, he really didn’t make any mistakes. We even find out a dead girl wasn’t really dead, due to his “clever” machinations.

    Frankly, were I the girl’s mother, I’d have clobbered Pendergast for making me go through the funeral. But apparently since it was all “for their own good,” everyone forgives him for deceiving them all.

  3. (Note from Collie: This comment is reprinted from the original posting, with my replies in blockquotes)

    Often, characters like Watson are an “everyman” that the reader can identify with, and to contrast with the “hero”. Dr. Watson has intelligence: he is a medical doctor. Yet, he is a bumbler, compared with Holmes.

    It’s a weak (but sometimes useful) literary device.

    I feel if the authors must make their “everyman” an idiot in order for the hero to shine, the technique is being used extremely poorly — and it’s not my favorite ‘reader identification’ literary device, as is. ;)

    On the other hand, your description of Dance of Death reads as if Pendergast is a Mary Sue: a primadonna who saps life and realism from every other character. (That wonderful phrase comes from

    Heehee! What a great phrase! ;)

    Regardless, the book sounds like the author’s wish-fulfillment, rather than an interesting story. Great stories come from the weaknesses of characters; your description implies that Pendergast has none. I’ll stay away from this one.

    I admit, while the persons who recommended these authors encouraged me to read all the other books in the series based on this character, I find myself unfortunately quite uninterested in doing so, based on my reaction to this book.

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