Child, Lincoln B. 1957–
Child, Lincoln B. 1957–
PERSONAL: Born October 13, 1957, in Westport, CT; son of William Clark (a professor) and Nancy (an educator; maiden name, Soller) Child; married Luz N. (a manager), May 29, 1992; children: Veronica Anne. Education: Carleton College, B.A. (with distinction), 1979. Religion: Episcopalian. Hobbies and other interests: Piano, five-string banjo, mountain hiking, English literature, motorcycles, architecture.
CAREER: St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, editor, 1979–88; Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., analyst, 1988–95; freelance writer, 1995–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Books for the Teen Age Award, New York Public Library, 1997, for Mount Dragon, and 1998, for Reliquary; Garden State Teen Book Award, New Jersey Library Association, 1998, for Relic.
Dark Company: The Ten Greatest Ghost Stories, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.
Dark Banquet: A Feast of Twelve Great Ghost Stories, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.
Tales of the Dark, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
Tales of the Dark Two, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
Tales of the Dark Three, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.
NOVELS; WITH DOUGLAS PRESTON
Relic, Forge (New York, NY), 1995.
Mount Dragon, Forge (New York, NY), 1996.
Reliquary, Forge (New York, NY), 1997.
Riptide, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Thunderhead, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Land of Fire, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The Ice Limit, Warner Books, 2000.
The Cabinet of Curiosities, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Still Life with Crows, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Brimstone, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Dance of Death, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Utopia, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2002.
Death Match, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2004.
ADAPTATIONS: Relic was adapted for film, Paramount Pictures, 1997, and the film rights have been purchased for Riptide. Several of the author's books have been made into audiobooks, including The Ice Limit, Time Warner AudioBooks (New York, NY), 2000; Utopia, Books on Tape, 2003; Still Life with Crows, Books on Tape, 2003; Deathmatch, Blackstone Audiobooks, 2004; and Brimstone, Books on Tape, 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: The coauthor of several popular mystery-thriller novels, Lincoln B. Child described himself to CA as a writer "even before I could write. Whenever my mother brought home a ream of lined paper, or my father produced an empty exam blue book, I looked on it as an invitation to completely fill the pages with lines, scribbles, and pictures." After working as an editor for St. Martin's Press, Child has established a successful career as a freelance novelist, with such titles as Riptide, Reliquary, and Relic to his credit.
Child's first literary success came with publication of his edited anthologies Dark Banquet: A Feast of Twelve Great Ghost Stories, Dark Company: The Ten Greatest Ghost Stories, and the Tales of the Dark series of short stories. In Dark Company, Child selects such classic spine tinglers as "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Monkey's Paw," and "The Shadow out of Time." Dark Banquet features a variety of haunting tales, such as H.G. Wells's "The Inexperienced Ghost," Robert Chambers's "The Yellow Sign," Robert Louis Stevenson's "Thrawn Janet," "Upper Berth" by F. Marion Crawford, and "They" by Rudyard Kipling. Robert Samoian commented in Armchair Detective that "for those who like the macabre in small doses, [Dark Banquet] will satisfy their particular hunger."
Coauthored by Child and Douglas Preston, the novel Relic involves strange killings in the New York Museum of Natural History. Visitors to the museum are being killed in the days preceding a large exhibition at the museum; their death is caused by someone or something that claws the flesh of its victims. Attempting to solve the murders are FBI Special Agent Pendergast, the New York police department, journalist Bill Smithback, and a host of others, including Margo Green, a graduate student, and Dr. Frock, an evolutionary theorist also intrigued by the murders. The action intensifies when museum officials decide to go ahead with the exhibition, even though the killer has not yet been caught.
Carl Hays noted in Booklist that Relic "has all the ingredients for well-deserved best-seller status" and that Child and Preston "hit paydirt with their wonderfully eerie rendition of New York's labrynthine Natural History Museum." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "an eccentric, grisly, thoroughly original thriller sure to please doctoral candidates and gore junkies alike." It was called a "well-crafted novel" that "offers first-rate thrills and chills," by a Publishers Weekly contributor. Writing in the Library Journal, Marylaine Block commented that the novel is "a real page-turner, part Jaws, part Poseiden Adventure."
Mount Dragon, also coauthored by Child and Preston, follows Brent Scopes and Charles Levine. Friends since childhood, Scopes and Levine followed different paths after graduating from college, Scopes going on to become head of a biochemical company called GeneDyne and Levine becoming a Harvard professor. GeneDyne is secretly working on genetic engineering, to which Levine is vehemently opposed. Guy Carson, an employee at GeneDyne's Mount Dragon facility, discovers that a co-worker has been killed by a virus called the "X-FLU." Other events lead Carson to believe that GeneDyne is engaged in nefarious activity. Levine seeks out Carson and the tale concludes, in the words of Booklist contributor William Beatty, leaving the reader "panting for Preston and Child's next yarn." A critic for Publishers Weekly added that "there's something here to attract—and satisfy—a diverse range of readers."
According to Booklist contributor Dennis Winters, Reliquary was expected to "do for the New York subway system what Jaws did for Long Island beaches." The third book by Child and Preston, Reliquary picks up on the travails of Lieutenant D'Agosta of the New York police department, FBI Agent Pendergast, Margo Green, now a doctor, and other characters from Relic. Set in New York City's subway system, Reliquary, like Relic, offers mysterious murders, these coming in the form of decapitations which seem to be the work of cannibals. When the city's upper class is inspired to commit civil disobedience, city officials decide to take action by flooding the nether vaults in the subway. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the book is "high on suspense and tremendous fun in parts … especially when exploring the city's nightmare underbelly." The reviewer added that Reliquary "carries us easily into the new plot and excites interest in seeing what Preston and Child come up with next." Pam Johnson, writing in the School Library Journal, praised Reliquary for being "expertly crafted and packaged to entertain."
In Riptide Child and Preston return to the world of mystery with a tale that takes place on Ragged Island, off the coast of Maine. The island, notorious for its many life-threatening booby-traps, took the life of its owner, Dr. Malin Hatch, thirty years ago. The Thalassa Group now scours Ragged Island to seek a treasure supposedly buried there by pirate Red Ned Ockham in the seventeenth century. The most formidable obstacle to the treasure is the Water Pit, which has claimed many lives, but the Thalassa Group insists that it has the technology and the information needed to traverse the deadly maw. "This non-stop action adventure has all the elements of a perfect summertime thriller," noted Rebecca House Stankowski in her Library Journal review. Writing in Booklist, Roland Green predicted that "fans of Peter Benchley and Clive Cussler, as well as thriller aficionados in general, will find this entertaining reading."
Child eschews descriptions of his books as "technothrillers" in favor of calling them "thrillers and sensational works—with the emphasis on sensation." These kinds of books "have a kind of tension between the seen and the unseen that I find fascinating," he explained to CA. When Child was a young boy he drew a picture of a monster on the last page of one of his notebooks that was so scary he was never able to turn to that page again. "That's an experience I've been trying to recreate in my writing ever since," he told CA. In the novels that he has cowritten, Child tries to "balance [a] sense of the strange and the mysterious with a solid grounding in reality. In Relic, for example, one of the things I strived to do was have the reader wonder 'are there supernatural elements at work here?' before at last providing a scientific explanation for the strange goings-on."
In Thunderhead, Child and coauthor Preston again present a "sturdy new tale of scientific derring-do," as described by a Publishers Weekly contributor. This time the plot revolves around the search for a lost Anasazi Indian "City of Gold." Nora Kelly is an archeologist who comes across an old letter from her missing father that gives clues to the city's location and sets the daughter off on her adventurous search. The Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the writing team show their "talent for exciting set pieces" and went on to comment that they successfully "infuse every aspect of their story with authentic techno-scientific lore."
The Ice Limit focuses on an expedition to dig up a meteor on a frozen island off the coast of Chile and transport it to New York. If successful, the colorful team of adventurers will have accomplished the goal of transporting the heaviest object ever moved by mankind. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book the authors' "most expertly executed … entertainment yet." Pam Johnson, writing in the School Library Journal, commented that "this natural thriller is not to be missed."
Child and Preston bring back FBI agent Pendergast in The Cabinet of Curiosities. Pendergast once again teams up with New York Times reporter Smithback and Museum of Natural History employee Kelly to track down a serial killer. The three take interest in the case because the killer may be immortal, based on the discovery of a nineteenth century corpse who shows signs of being murdered in a manner identical to a modern series of murders. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "a great beach novel, at times gruesome, always fun." Rebecca House Stankowski, writing in the Library Journal, called the effort an "absolutely terrific thriller "and a "big winner."
Child's first solo effort as a novelist, Utopia, tells the story of computer engineer Dr. Andrew Wayne and his amazing computerized robotics system named Metanet, which operates the high-tech, Las Vegas theme park called Utopia. Called in to work on the system, Wayne soon stumbles across a plot to hack the system and rob the theme park while killing at will by causing various accidents. In a review in Booklist, Mary Frances Wilkens wrote, "The blend of technological jargon and suspense results in a real thrill-a-minute read." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "creates a convincingly self-contained world" and that he is "capable of fireworks (literally) at the rousing conclusion." Child also worked on his own for Death Match, a story about a matchmaking business called Eden that uses computers to make "perfect" matches that turn deadly.
Despite his solo efforts, Child continues to write with Preston; and the duo have created titles such as Still Life with Crows and Brimstone, both of which feature FBI agent Pendergast and his cohorts. In another Pendergast book, Dance of Death, the FBI agent is faced with the fact that someone may be killing off his friends and suspects that it is his mad brother Diogenes, who was long believed to be dead. Clues to the case may lie with some ancient artifacts at the Museum of Natural History as Pendergast is once again joined in the hunt by his friends Smithback and Kelly. David Pitt, writing in Booklist, commented that "the story soars" and added that "the authors deliver an exhilarating finale." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the effort "pretty darn good."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, winter, 1987, Robert Samoian, review of Dark Banquet, p. 90.
Booklist, December 1, 1994, Carl Hays, review of Relic, p. 635; February 1, 1996, William Beatty, review of Mount Dragon, p. 918; March 15, 1997, Dennis Winters, review of Reliquary, p. 1205; May 15, 1998, Roland Green, review of Riptide, p. 1565; May 15, 2000, David Pitt, review of The Ice Limit, p. 1702; June 1, 2002, David Pitt, review of The Cabinet of Curiosities, p. 1692; September 15, 2002, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Utopia, p. 179; June 1, 2005, David Pitt, review of Dance of Death, p. 1762.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1994, review of Relic; October 1, 2002, review of Utopia, p. 1412.
Library Journal, January, 1995, Marylaine Block, review of Relic, p. 138; May 1, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of Reliquary, p. 143; June 15, 1997, Juleigh Muirhead, review of Reliquary, p. 114; June 15, 1998, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Riptide, p. 108; July, 2000, Fred M. Gervat, review of The Ice Limit, p. 142; June 1, 2002, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of The Cabinet of Curiosities, p. 197; May 15, 2005, Jeff Ayers, "Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child," interview with authors, p. 106.
Publishers Weekly, January 8, 1996, review of Mount Dragon, p. 59; March 3, 1997, review of Reliquary, p. 64; May 31, 1999, review of Thunderhead, p. 64; June 5, 2000, review of The Ice Limit, p. 74; May 13, 2002, review of The Cabinet of Curiosities, p. 48; September 10, 2001, John F. Baker, "'Utopia' for Doubleday," p. 16; November 11, 2002, review of Utopia, p. 41; May 23, 2005, review of Dance of Death, p. 1762.
School Library Journal, September, 1997, Pam Johnson, review of Reliquary, p. 239; October, 1999, Pam Johnson, review of Thunderhead, p. 179; November, 2000, Pam Johnson, review of The Ice Limit, p. 183; May, 2003, Pam Johnson, review of Utopia, p. 179; November, 2004, Pam Johnson, review of Brimstone, p. 177.
BookBrowser, http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (January 10, 2003), Harriet Klausner, review of The Ice Limit.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child Home Page, http://www.prestonchild.com (December 20, 2005).