Crooked River is another cool Pendergast installment and I will continue to argue that they should drop the Gideon Crew books and focus here. In Crooked River Pendergast is called in to a small beach community where over 100 severed feet in matching green shoes have floated onto the shore. Classic Pendergast setup. One thing I really liked about this entry was that Pendergast was not his usual bottomless well of esoteric knowledge. He actually brings in people who specialize in different fields to give him information. And I love that since P&C have stepped away from possible magical influence, they seem to have a lot of research to back up their crazy scenarios. Try to imagine all the ways that a bunch of severed feet with matching shoes could wind up on a beach and you'll probably have a hard time. Not only did they do it, but it's actually a viable reason. I was all in and creeped out.
I want you to know I liked it, but these Preston & Child books, for me, are usually page-turners that cannot be put down. I start them with good intentions of going to sleep soon, but find myself on the last page around 3 AM and Crooked River didn't have that tension for me. Everything related to Constance was discordant. From the house they rent to her final overblown actions, I couldn't get a good hook into her story. Coldmoon and ANOTHER Smithback also felt a bit tacked on here. I guess we needed at least some of the information they provided, but looking back it feels like filler.
I think bringing the local police chief, Perelman, more into the mix would have been a better move since he was such an interesting character that was left only partly developed. Obviously as a four-star read, the problems which take up so much space here were relatively minor in the scope of the novel. If you're a fan of the series I don't think you'll be disappointed, but if you are new to the series, I might start somewhere else.