cover image Cardinal Black

Cardinal Black

Robert R. McCammon. Cemetery Dance, $26 (464p) ISBN 978-1-58767-704-5

Set in 1703, McCammon’s relentlessly paced seventh novel featuring “problem-solver” Matthew Corbett picks up the plot threads left untied at the end of 2016’s Freedom of the Mask with Matthew’s sweetheart, Berry Grigsby, under the influence of a drug that threatens to destroy her mind if an antidote isn’t administered. Matthew teams with Julian Devane, an assassin associate of his nemesis, Professor Fell, and the two race to retrieve the book of chemical and botanical potions stolen from the professor that can save Berry. In no time the two are embroiled in intrigues in the London underworld involving a rogue admiral of the Royal Navy, a pair of Prussian operatives, a gothic femme fatale outfitted with talons, and the titular infernal villain, who’s auctioning the book to a cabal of international villains. As usual, McCammon dazzles the reader with gritty historical detail, vivid local color, and a cast of memorable grotesques, among them the Owl, who can literally watch his own back by disjointing his neck. Series fans will find this entry a thoroughly enjoyable extension of McCammon’s evolving period epic. (Apr.)