Pendergast has landed in my to-read pile several times. Have always enjoyed the fast moving plots. But this time around, I noticed something different: how Preston and Child used their characters to squeeze the most out of their plot.
The book proceeds in a linear fashion, using very short chapters to feature each bit of action. More important, the chapters are told from different viewpoints. Not only do the chapters present important information within the action sequences, but they also flesh out both main and secondary characters. The reader not only gets to know who they are but sympathize for their problems too.
My favorite example in this book was Pendergast's encounter with a survivalist who has his whole community scared of him. Pendergast goes to his cabin deep into the high mountains of Colorado in spite of all the advice to the contrary, and then, squeezes the information out of the gun nut in a tense show down. The readers already know Pendergast has nerves of titanium but must wonder if a stronger metaphor is needed.
Another 5***** rating, for general, edge-of-the-chair excellence. Oh, the growth of Pendergast's somewhat clueless protege also deserves kudos.
I've read the forums for years, mostly as a lurker because I don't think I have much expertise to offer. In my readings, I've thought the most of the comments are right on. If a discussion starts chasing its tails over the same ground, the moderator has usually stepped in to calm things down.
My biggest piece of wisdom from the forums: Give a new publisher a couple years to prove they know what they're doing before you trust your manuscript to them. They tend to go belly-up for many reasons -- even though their prinicpals have the noblest of intentions when they start their publishing enterprise. It's not just publishing. All start-ups fail at astonishing rates.