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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

How to Time Travel and Stop a Serial Killer: A Review of The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Preston & Child

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

Bears waving.
Hello and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Happy first Wednesday of 2023! I got a good one for ya today; we’re starting out strong this year! And no! I cannot write a sentence that does not end in an exclamation point!

Today’s post is brought to you by Novel Suspects Insider’s Club! They aren’t paying me for my review, they just sent me the book for free. Huge thank you to Novel Suspects and Grand Central Publishing for sending me an advanced copy of today’s review. And what will I be reviewing today? Why, it’s the latest by Preston & Child: The Cabinet of Dr. Leng.

Book cover of The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Preston and Child.

Full disclosure, I’ve never read any of the Pendergast novels. There are many that come prior to this entry; there are 21 entries in total and I started with number 21. I have missed out on tons of lore, character relationships and development, backstories, the whole kit and caboodle; I don’t know anything, I went in totally blind. A blessing and a curse if I’m being honest. I lowkey feel like I picked the perfect entry point for the series though.

We’ll get to that in a little bit, first I have a synopsis for ya. As always a spoiler alert is in order. I also must include a content warning. The main villain of this novel is a serial killer who went after teenaged girls. While there is never anything graphic, I feel it’s important to include as the victims are mainly children. Also there are mentions of substance abuse in this book’s pages. Just be aware of that before going in. I won’t be talking about either of these topics in depth in my review but I’ll likely touch on them. And with that, let’s get to the synopsis.

Our story begins right where the last Pendergast novel left off. Constance Greene has traveled back in time to 1880 New York City where she plans to save her sister and brother from certain death. While our Femme Fatal is off figuring out how exactly to unalive a serial killer, her partner in the future is desperately trying to get back to her.

Close up of a clock.
And the clock is tickin!

Pendergast, the series’ titular character, is drinking too much absinth and searching for someone to repair his inherited time machine. Somehow this man is loaded and can spend millions of dollars to repair this machine, that’s neither here nor there, but the important thing to note is that he basically does nothing throughout this novel until the end.

We have two other important characters this novel focuses on: Agent Coldmoon and Detective D’Agosta. Agent Coldmoon is solving the murder of a Lakota artist out in South Dakota and Detective D’Agosta is solving a murder in New York City involving a conservator who was locked inside a freezer at the National History Museum. Spoiler, these two cases relate to one another and the pair of detectives get to work together and trade stories about Pendergast. One more spoiler, these cases have no relation to the main story; at least not in this entry. The Cabinet of Dr. Leng is a two-part story with part-two schedule to release some time in the future. Do not expect closure at the end of this novel!

Homer Simpson screaming "no."
I know, a cliffhanger, not everyone's cup of tea.

I entered into this series at arguably its highest point, and despite not knowing all the details, I entered at the best possible time. The amount of tension and exciting incidents this book has is through the roof. Despite not knowing much about the characters’ relationships or much of the lore, that didn’t matter. Preston and Child gave just the right amount of information for new readers to follow along. I was able to understand the relationships between the main characters as well as the important lore required for this book. It was incredibly easy to follow. As stated in the author’s note, it is recommended to readers that they read The Cabinet of Curiosities and Bloodless before diving into The Cabinet of Dr. Leng; I did not read either and I do not think it necessary in order to understand this entry. It likely would add to the story had I done so, but I personally had no issue with just reading The Cabinet of Dr. Leng.

The Cabinet of Dr. Leng is an incredibly enjoyable read. I was engrossed from the start when Constance landed in 1880 New York City. I wish the whole book focused on her and was told in her POV. She is a woman on a mission, and that mission is violence; I respect that.

Taylor Swift in her Bad Blood music video.
She is giving Vigilante Shit vibes and I am here for it.

It’s a shame that Constance isn’t the main focus of this novel. Preston and Child constantly jump between the past and the present; which isn’t the issue. I fully understand and support having chapters focusing on Pendergast and how he’s trying to get back to Constance. Those do add to the novel. The issue is the chapters that focus on Coldmoon and D’Agosta. Their cases have nothing to do with the overarching plot. What they’re doing has nothing to do with Constance and/or Pendergast. I do not see any point in including them in this entry. Their cases, while interesting on their own, do not fit in with the rest of this story. These chapters detract from the main story and waste valuable time that could be used to add further details to Constance’s revenge plan or Pendergast’s plan to fix the time machine.

Jonah Hill shaking head and saying no.
Not a fan of those chapters.

I will say, the longer the book goes on the better it gets. The side-plot of Coldmoon and D’Agosta’s case becomes less prevalent and more focus is placed on Pendergast and Constance. As I said at the end of my synopsis though, do not expect everything to be wrapped up by the end. There are still many questions that need answers and the story ends on quite the cliffhanger. A direct sequel is in the works but there is no set release date. Honestly, The Cabinet of Dr. Leng has one of the best cliffhangers I’ve read in a while. The tension that builds throughout the novel really comes to a peak at the end. I can only fathom the levels it’ll reach in the sequel.

I wholeheartedly believe fans of the Pendegast series will gobble this one up. I enjoyed my time with it and am seriously contemplating picking up a copy of the two recommended reads so I can fully appreciate The Cabinet of Dr. Leng. Thank you once again to Novel Suspects Insider's Club and Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of The Cabinet of Dr. Leng. I truly appreciate that someone wants to send me books.

With that, I must bid you all adieu. Thank you for joining me today for the first official review of 2023. I shall see you next week with something very on brand for me.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all next week, bye!


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