Preston and Child write terrific thrillers. Special agent Aloysius Pendergast is a fascinating hero who has appropriately been compared to Sherlock Holmes. But no writer, and especially writers talented enough to manage without sleazy tricks, should corrupt the biography of real people to further a plot.
In Fever Dream they piggy-back on the fame of painter and ornithologist John James Audubon in the service of a plot about a creativity-enhancing form of bird flu. Now many thousands of readers, even if they realize that the real Audubon was naturally a supremely talented and accomplished artist and naturalist, wont be able to help associating him with a strange story of illness and insanity. Shame on you, Preston and Child!
I never quite understood why fiction writers employ researchers, since it seemed to me that tracking down and learning about places, history, etc. as background to a story is fun. I caught a glimmer of the place of research assistance through the Pendergast series. The agent knows everything there is to know about fine wines, clothes, art, and furnishings, not to mention literature, music, and ancient languages. Either Preston and Child are two of the world’s most amazing Renaissance men or they employ a whole team of researchers.