Welcome to the world of
Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast


“I have an interest—some might call it an unhealthy interest—in unusual homicides.
A bad habit, but very hard to break.”


“My problem, quite simply, is that I cannot stay away from an interesting case.
An annoying habit, but very hard to break.”


“Most people are about as aware of their surroundings as a sea cucumber.”


“A person of rare ability seeks to draw me into some
sort of malevolent game of his own devising.”


When we first meet Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast, he is a controversial FBI investigator in the novel, Relic, and in its sequel Reliquary, before assuming the protagonist role in The Cabinet of Curiosities. He is 50ish and slender, with pale blue eyes and a face “so finely modeled that it could have been carved by Michelangelo.” Independently wealthy, his salary at the FBI is an annual honorarium of $1. Pendergast studied Anthropology at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude, and received a dual Doctor of Philosophy degree in Classics Philosophy from Baliol College, part of Oxford University in England. He hails from a wealthy New Orleans family, but lives in New York City, alternating between his tasteful apartment in the Dakota and a grand, Beaux Arts-style mansion uptown on Riverside Drive. A polyglot, Pendergast demonstrates a mastery of French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Portuguese and Cantonese, and appears semi-fluent in Mandarin and Japanese. He also boasts a lethal expertise in many styles of combat, and practices “an esoteric mental discipline known as Chongg Ran,” which enables him to obtain “startling insights unobtainable any other way.”

Persons of Interest

Diogenes Dagrepont Bernoulli Pendergast

The younger brother of Aloysius Pendergast, he is every bit as capable and intelligent. As a child, Diogenes looked up to his elder brother, who was often cold or intentionally unkind to him. A childhood incident involving Aloysius left Diogenes visually and physically impaired. As he grew older, Diogenes’s desire for revenge developed into a full-blown hatred of his brother.

Constance Greene

A mysterious young lady, “with eyes that seem to possess, unaccountably, a depth of almost limitless experience,” Constance becomes the ward of Agent Pendergast after he discovers her living in the secret honeycomb of passages of his Harlem mansion.

Lt. Vincent D`Agosta

A New York City detective and Pendergast’s close friend, D’Agosta assists Pendergast on controversial cases, often putting his own career on the line.

Captain Laura Haywood

A New York City cop, Captain Laura Haywood is D’Agosta’s wife. She has issues with Pendergast, primarily because of his tactics, but also because he gets D’Agosta into trouble.

Dr. Margo Green

Dr. Margo Green is an ethnopharmacologist and geneticist. She is also a former employee of the New York Museum of Natural History. Margo first appeared in Relic as a graduate student at the museum working under Dr. Whitney Frock. Together with Frock, her coworker Greg Kawakita, and journalist Bill Smithback, she was instrumental in solving the Museum Beast Murders.

Corrine “Corrie” Swanson

A student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Corrie Swanson is an associate of Special Agent Pendergast. Corrie first appeared as a teenage Goth girl in Still Life with Crows and was the featured protagonist in the novel White Fire.

William “Bill” Smithback, Jr.

Bill Smithback, Jr., first appeared in Relic as a writer, commissioned by the museum to write a book about the Superstition Exhibition. He goes on to appear in many other books in the series. Sometimes he is a nuisance, but mostly he is Pendergast’s ally.

Dr. Nora Waterford Kelly

A curator in the Anthropology Department of the New York Museum of Natural History, Nora is the main protagonist in Thunderhead. She was last seen in New Mexico contemplating a job offer from the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute and also appeared in Cemetery Dance.

Helen (von Fuchs) Esterhazy Pendergast

An epidemiologist and pharmaceutical biologist, Helen was the wife of Aloysius Pendergast. First referenced by Pendergast in Relic, she is prominently featured in the three Pendergast novels that make up the “Helen Trilogy” (Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, and Two Graves).

Alban Pendergast

Alban is the elder twin son of A.X.L. Pendergast and Helen Esterhazy Pendergast.

Tristram Pendergast

The younger of Aloysius Pendergast’s twin sons by his wife Helen, Tristram is tall and slender, with Pendergast’s blond hair, silvery-blue eyes and narrow, patrician face. Due to his unusual upbringing, he is much the opposite of his twin brother Alban.


Proctor is Pendergast’s chauffeur and butler, and there is more to the character then we know. It’s clear he has military training, and that training is put to the test in The Obsidian Chamber.


Wren was introduced for the first time in The Cabinet of Curiosities. He is a registered professional researcher at the New York Public Library. He maintains a friendly professional relationship with Pendergast, and often calls him hypocrite lecteur, a reference to the poem “Au lecteur” by Charles Baudelaire, which was also quoted in T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”

Mrs. Trask

Mrs. Trask is the housekeeper of Pendergast’s mansion at 891 Riverside Drive in New York. She is described as a pleasant and plump woman.

Places of Interest

Rituals & Diversions

  •  Tea Ceremony

    “Carefully, he filled the caddy, measured in the powdered tea, whisked it to a precise consistency, then poured it into two exquisite seventeenth-century bowls. As he sipped, he allowed certain memories to form pictures in his mind, one at a time, lingering over each before moving to the next.” (Cemetary Dance, ch. 7)
  •  Chongg Ran practice

    “Pendergast lay on the ground, maintaining acute awareness of his surroundings: the smell of dry weeds, the felling of sticky heat, the stubble and pebbles pressing into his back. He isolated every individual sound, every chirp, rustle, flutter, whisper, down to the faint breathing of his assistant sitting some yards away…” (Still Life with Crows, ch. 38)
  •  Collects Bonsai

    Pendergast keeps a collection of Bonsai inside a room of his Dakota apartment, which is described in detail in Reliquary, ch. 26; Cabinet of Curiosities, ch. 9, and Fever Dream, ch. 7.
  •  Vintage Car Enthusiast

    Collection includes: Porshe Roadster '54 Spyder 550, 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
  •  Oenophile and Liquorist

    “That wine is the reason, the only reason, I took the case. In the nineteenth century, Chateau Haut-Braquilanges produced the finest wines in France.” (Crimson Shore, ch. 1)

    Pendergast also enjoys Absinthe (Blue Labyrinth, Crimson Shore), as does his brother Diogenes.

Family History

Pendergast Family Tree

Brushes with Death

  •  Poisoned

    Blue Labyrinth, ch. 20
  •  Shot

    Cabinet of Curiosities, ch. 3
    Cemetery Dance, ch. 79
    Cold Vengeance, ch. 4
    Two Graves, first chapter
  •  Prison Brawl

    Book of the Dead, ch.30
  •  Mauled

    Fever Dream, ch. 3
  •  Bricked Up and left to die

    Brimstone, ch. 84
  •  Cambodian Death Camp

    Relic, ch. 16 - rumored, not confirmed

The Creators of the World of Pendergast

Douglas Preston

Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, and grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. Following a distinguished career at a private nursery school--he was almost immediately expelled—he attended public schools and the Cambridge School of Weston. Notable events in his early life included the loss of a fingertip at the age of three to a bicycle; the loss of his two front teeth to his brother Richard's fist; and various broken bones, also incurred in dust-ups with Richard. (Richard went on to write The Hot Zone and The Cobra Event, which tells you all you need to know about what it was like to grow up with him as a brother.)

As they grew up, Doug, Richard, and their little brother David roamed the quiet suburbs of Wellesley, terrorizing the natives with home-made rockets and incendiary devices mail-ordered from the backs of comic books or concocted from chemistry sets.

Lincoln Child

Lincoln Child was born in Westport, Connecticut, which he still calls his hometown (despite the fact that he left the place before he reached his first birthday and now only goes back for weekends).

Lincoln seemed to have acquired an interest in writing as early as second grade, when he wrote a short story entitled Bumble the Elephant (now believed by scholars to be lost). Along with two dozen short stories composed during his youth, he wrote a science-fiction novel in tenth grade called Second Son of Daedalus and a shamelessly Tolkienesque fantasy in twelfth grade titled The Darkness to the North (left unfinished at 400 manuscript pages). Both are exquisitely embarrassing to read today and are kept under lock and key by the author.

The Pendergast Series

The Obsidian Chamber


The Obsidian Chamber


“One of the best thriller series of all time.” —Examiner.com

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Grateful acknowledgement is made to Nadine Waddell, whose devoted readership and knowledge of the Pendergast series was integral to updating and fact checking the content for this website.