Doug Preston and Lincoln Child return with their next highly anticipated Agent Pendergast novel, CRIMSON SHORE (Grand Central Publishing; Hardcover; November 10, 2015). In CRIMSON SHORE, Agent Pendergast and his modern Sherlock Holmes persona, take on a sinister murder mystery in the quaint sea-side town of Exmouth, Massachusetts, and uncover mysterious historical symbols in the nearby salt marshes… the place where, legend has it, the real witches of Salem took refuge after fleeing the 1692 witch hunts.
On Writing Crimson Shore
When we began discussing the subject matter for CRIMSON SHORE, we knew that we wanted a couple of things. First, we wanted it to be a standalone thriller, rather than part of, say, trilogies like our Diogenes Trilogy and Helen Trilogy (also Pendergast titles). Second, we wanted to situate the novel in a place where Pendergast would be a complete fish out of water. Most Pendergast novels are set in locations that he knows well—New York City, Louisiana—and it’s always fun to see him trying to further his investigations in a spot that he’s not only unfamiliar with, but where he sticks out like a sore thumb. We played this card in our earlier Pendergast novels, STILL LIFE WITH CROWS and WHITE FIRE, to good effect.
And so we decided to set this book in the fictitious seacoast fishing town of Exmouth, Massachusetts, north of Boston and Cape Ann. There were several advantages to this. Both Doug and I know the area well, which is always a boon when trying to create a credible, colorful locale. Also, it allowed us to tip our literary hats to H. P. Lovecraft and his own uber-creepy town of Innsmouth—the setting of one of our favorite stories by our favorite horror writer. Finally, in situating Exmouth not far from Salem, it allowed us to bring in a gothic subplot involving the Witch Trials of the late seventeenth century: a subplot we found so interesting that at times it almost threatened to take over the novel!
All in all, writing CRIMSON SHORE was a really enjoyable experience. We were able to add some iconic Pendergastian moments: one, for example, where he teaches the chef at the inn where he’s staying (Exmouth has some really execrable restaurants) how to cook a dish that the FBI agent can tolerate. We include all the Pendergastian trappings readers have come to expect, such as a ‘memory crossing’ he undertakes to help him solve the mystery at a time when all avenues of investigation seem to be dead ends. And we were also able to give new depth to our main characters in this story, Constance Greene as well as Pendergast himself.
Exmouth proved an ideal ‘fish out of water’ location in which to place Pendergast and situate CRIMSON SHORE. As for whether we succeeded in making it a standalone novel—well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself and see!
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