WHEN TWO HEADS MIGHT BE BETTER THAN ONE
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.
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.