April 20, 2012


I just finished “Relic,” a mystery that had once been on the “New York Times” bestseller list. I’d bought it for a dollar at the secondhand bookstore and got my money’s worth. The novel is a page turner.

What intrigues me is that the piece was co-authored. Since I think of creativity as a Tsunamic swell from the unconscious, it is difficult for me to imagine two artists telling a story with the same vision and style — just as I can’t imagine two maestros on a concert podium conducting Wagner together. Some arts are collaborative, of course, dancers and actors, singers and the like. That’s because they are performers who interpret the art of others.

(courtesy: 123rf.com)

Mystery writing, being formulaic, might be more amenable to collaboration than general fiction. Certainly, the “Nancy Drew” mystery series provides a seamless blending of different writers. But where no general directions for assemblage exists, collaboration strikes me as tricky. First of all, it requires compromise, a difficult feat when personal vision is at stake. Consider what  a painting  might look like if Picasso started at one end of a long canvas and Van Gogh at the other, each of them intent upon capturing a sunrise.

In spite of my reservations, I admit that Douglas Preston and his cohort, Lincoln Child, did a good job with their collaboration. I whipped through 468 pages in record time without noting any dissonance. I’ll look for the sequel, “Reliquary,” when I’m next in the bookstore. On dark and stormy days, I love a mystery and in this case, two heads might be better than one.