The Cabinet of Dr Leng
Preston and Child
Pendergast Book 21
Grand Central Pub
Jan 17th, 2023
The Cabinet of Dr Leng by Doug Preston and Lincoln Child is part mystery and part science-fiction thriller that integrates time travel. Regarding FBI Special Agent Pendergast he is MIA in the first part of the book.
“Because of the awful shock he received at the end of Bloodless, we felt it would be better to let him alone, so to speak, for a time. Besides, as he implies to Coldmoon early in Leng, there would not have been much action of his to show in those first days after Constance left. Also, we had a lot to cover establishing Constance in her “new” life in 1880, and from a storytelling perspective that seemed the most pressing order of business.”
In the previous book, Bloodless, Constance Greene, the ward and love-interest of Pendergast traveled in time to New York City during the 1880s. She is hoping to prevent Dr. Enoch Leng, a sadistic doctor, from killing her sister Mary and her brother Joseph. Constance has not aged because Leng gave her an elixir to prolong her life. She wants to gain justice and enter an alternate universe to keep her siblings alive. Unfortunately, Dr. Leng is a truly evil character, able to foil Pendergast and manipulate all the characters.
“Older Constance (and those who might follow or pursue her from our world) can do what she likes in this alternate universe without worrying about any consequences in our own. The worst that could happen is that she doesn’t return.
Since, apart from this, the two universes are similar in every way, young Constance is exactly as older Constance remembers—because after all, she was that same girl herself once, long ago. She shares a history, and the memories of that history. However, the moment that older Constance interacts with her younger self in this timeline, she immediately sends the alternate universe down a different fork. In that universe, younger Constance (having met her older self) is now irrecoverably changed and, in a sense, they are no longer the same person.
Heavy, isn’t it!”
There are other plotlines including Pendergast’s attempt to rebuild the machine that enabled Constance’s time travel so he can join her, and a murder case that Agent Coldmoon is trying to solve.
“The novel has several major plot lines, one featuring Agent Coldmoon and Lt. Commander Vincent D’Agosta in a present-day murder mystery involving a curator found locked and frozen solid in a freezer. at the Museum of Natural History. The other plotline features Constance in 1880. The latter is the main and most compelling plotline in the story. We had a wonderful time researching and writing those historical sequences. I’m especially fond of the conversation between Constance and the clever and sardonic teenager, Edith Jones, at the Red Ball. Constance doesn’t realize who Edith Jones will grow up to be… Nor do we share that information with the reader.”
This book allows readers to understand Constance’s backstory. It is a cliff hanger that sets up the next book, which will resolve all the dangling plot lines.