Aloysius X. L. Pendergast is a fictional character appearing in novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
In the novels, Pendergast is a special agent with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He is a favorite among fans for his unique personality, appreciation of culture and his almost supernatural competence. He works out of the New Orleans, Louisiana branch of the FBI, but frequently travels out of state to investigate cases which interest him, namely those appearing to be the work of serial killers.
Born to a wealthy Southern
family of French
descent circa 1960 and raised in New Orleans
, Pendergast retains his gentlemanly Southern manners and mellifluous Deep Southern accent
. He studied Anthropology
at Harvard University
(graduating summa cum laude
) and received a dual D.Phil.
from the Oxford University
in England. Which one of Oxford's component colleges he attended has never been specified. As mentioned in Relic
, Pendergast served with the U.S. Special Forces
. One rumor said of Pendergast's Special Forces service was he had walked out of "a Cambodian death camp" as the lone survivor, but at the height of the Vietnam War and SF operations in Cambodia he would have been in elementary school. At some point during his lifetime, Pendergast married, but has indicated that he is now a widower. Very little is known about his late wife, other than that she was a skilled big game hunter
and may have died only a few years before the events of Relic
Pendergast is a withdrawn man, but can be remarkably polite, charming or dangerous when need be. Well-learned in many subjects, he converses easily with doctors, scientists, and intellectuals. He is a master of manipulation, both of people and of his own mind when difficult circumstances demand a fresh view of the situation.
Pendergast's build is described as tall and thin, and he boasts a strong torso with lean muscle. His fingers are long and tapered. Pendergast has silver-colored eyes, a pale complexion, and light blond hair that appears almost white. He has been described as looking almost like an albino
. Pendergast typically dresses in a black, hand-tailored, Italian suit regardless of weather conditions, and is often described as looking like a well-dressed undertaker
. Observers note that he moves with a "cat
-like" grace. His demeanor is that of someone taking in even the smallest details.
In many cases, Pendergast's normal appearance is irrelevant. A master of disguises, he has fooled even close acquaintances on several occasions.
Pendergast owns and drives a 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
. All his suits are custom made out of rare fabric in Italy. His personal sidearm is usually a M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol
that is expensive or customized, and usually both. In The Cabinet of Curiosities
, Still Life with Crows
and The Wheel of Darkness
, it is a Les Baer
.45 caliber Government Model. In Relic
he carried a .45 Colt Anaconda double-action
revolver. He has also mentioned a "Signature Grade" by Florida SWAT trainer and gunsmith Hilton Yam in his collection that has not been seen outside a hypnotherapy session. During the climactic scene in The Book of the Dead
, he carries the more common Colt-produced version.
An internally-renovated Beaux Arts mansion on 891 Riverside Drive in New York City, near Harlem, and inherited from a deceased relative in The Cabinet of Curiosities, serves as his personal residence. Pendergast also has an apartment at the Dakota.
Normally kept hidden from view, Pendergast wears a chain with a pendant that depicts a lidless eye over two moons, one new and one full, and a phoenix. The Pendergast family crest consists of the same eye and moons, but a lion instead.
Pendergast carries a variety of hidden tools, such as lock picks, flashlights of various sizes, test tubes, syringes, and forensic chemicals.
Pendergast appreciates the finer things in life, including expensive cuisine and wines. He has a stock of 1990 Petrus
, and one of his favorite drinks is green tea
. He is known to enjoy steak tartare
. He also has a passion for Bonsai
trees. He enjoys classical music
but detests opera
. Pendergast has displayed sufficient ability in an unarmed combat not unlike Shotokan
karate (see Brimstone
) to kill a prison inmate with his bare hands (see The Book of the Dead
). He spent a year in Tibet studying the deep meditative art of Chongg Ran, taught to him by the monks of the Gsalrig Chongg monastery.
Pendergast is a student of many languages. He is fluent in Italian, Latin, Greek, and Chinese (some Mandarin, fluent in Cantonese).
- Lt. Vincent D'Agosta — New York City Police Department / Southampton PD, possibly Pendergast's most trusted friend and associate.
- Constance Greene — Pendergast's ward.
- Proctor — Pendergast's butler and chauffeur.
- "Wren" — a book restorer at New York Public Library.
- "Mime" — an invalid of unknown affiliation; skilled in obtaining obscure information via the computer and Internet.
- Dr. Nora Kelly — New York Museum of Natural History curator; also featured in Thunderhead.
- William "Bill" Smithback, Jr. — New York Times (formerly New York Post) journalist.
- Captain Laura Hayward — New York City Police Department, helps in many cases.
- Dr. Margo Green — New York Museum of Natural History curator.
- Dr. Viola Maskelene — an Egyptologist, love interest.
- The Monks of the Gsalrig Chongg Monastery.
- Eli Glinn — president of Effective Engineering Solutions, Inc. Expert profiler and the only person who gets Pendergast to talk about his childhood and his brother. Also breaks Pendergast out of prison; also featured in The Ice Limit.
- Corrie Swanson — from Medicine Creek, Kansas, 18 years old, assisted Pendergast on a case. Currently enrolled at Phillips Exeter Academy.
- Diogenes Dagrepont Bernoulli Pendergast — Pendergast's younger brother (born circa 1962). As intelligent as Aloysius, if not more so, but a criminal mastermind. Although he was always a unique child, Diogenes was pushed over the edge during a certain Event which occurred in his early years, causing his heterochromia iridis. The book Dance of Death deals with a cat and mouse chase between the two brothers. Following Dance of Death, the novel The Book of the Dead concludes the brothers' saga, though he later appears in The Wheel of Darkness in a dream sequence.
- Cornelia Delamere Pendergast — Pendergast's great-aunt. Poisoned her husband, brother and children and watched them die. Currently resides at the Mount Mercy Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
- Ambergris Pendergast — Cornelia's brother, whom she poisoned. Pendergast's great-uncle.
- Antoine Leng Pendergast (Enoch Leng) — Pendergast's great-grand uncle. Traveled north to New York after being expelled from the Pendergast mansion. Taxonomist and chemist as well as a member of the New York Lyceum in the late 19th century. Exposed as a serial killer in The Cabinet of Curiosities who killed many people in the pursuit of a substance that would prolong his life. He succeeded and survived until his home on Riverside Drive was invaded and he was tortured to death.
- Hezekiah Pendergast — (Pendergast's great-great grandfather) Antoine's father. Was a traveling salesman who contributed greatly to the family fortune by selling a quack medicine known as Hezekiah's Compound Elixir and Gladular Restorative. The tonic was eventually exposed as a lethal blend of cocaine, acetanilid, and alkaloid botanicals. It was the cause of uncounted addictions and deaths, including that of Hezekiah's wife and Antoine's mother, Constance Leng Pendergast.
- Henri Pendregast de Mousqueton — a "seventeenth-century mountebank who pulled teeth, performed magic and comedy, and practiced quack medicine."
- Eduard Pendregast — a "well-known Harley Street doctor in eighteenth-century London."
- Comstock Pendergast — Pendergast's great-grand uncle. Famed mesmerist, magician and mentor to Harry Houdini. Eventually murdered his business partner and his family. He then committed suicide by cutting his throat twice.
- Linnaeus Pendergast — Pendergast's father who was killed in the fire.
- Isabella Pendergast — Pendergast's mother, also killed in the fire.
- "Helen" Pendergast — Pendergast's deceased wife. An experienced hunter who was killed in an accident in Tanzania. Pendergast's wife is briefly mentioned in several of the Preston/Child novels; her first name is never specified, but readers on the PrestonChild.com bulletin boards have dubbed her "Helen" for conversational purposes.
Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast appears in five stand-alone novels in addition to starring in his own trilogy. Although they are intended to be standalone novels, they are connected through the mentioning of previous books, characters, and events. All of these books were jointly written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
- Relic (1995) (Pendergast's First Appearance) — Pendergast investigates a series of strange murders and rumors of a murderous beast in the New York Museum of Natural History. Includes Margo Green, reporter Bill Smithback and Vincent D'Agosta.
- Reliquary (1997) — Pendergast returns to New York when a new string of murders surfaces resembling those of the Museum Beast case. He is again teamed with Margo Green, Dr. Frock, William Smithback Jr., and Vincent D'Agosta (all of whom were in the previous book) and introduces the character of Laura Hayward.
- The Cabinet of Curiosities (2002) — Pendergast is drawn to the remains of a 19th century charnel house, unearthed at a construction site in New York and finds himself investigating a new series of 20th century copycat killings. He is joined by William Smithback Jr. and Dr. Nora Kelly.
- Still Life with Crows (2003) — Pendergast travels to midwestern Kansas to the dying farm town of Medicine Creek to investigate a series of brutal and ritualistic killings. He teams up with a teenage malcontent, Corrie Swanson, to solve the case.
- The Wheel of Darkness (2007) — Pendergast has taken Constance on a whirlwind Grand Tour, hoping to give her closure and a sense of the world that she's missed. They head to Tibet, where Pendergast intensively trained in martial arts and spiritual studies. At a remote monastery, they learn that a rare and dangerous artifact the monks have been guarding for generations has been mysteriously stolen. Pendergast agrees to take up the search. The trail leads him and Constance to the maiden voyage of the Brittania, the world's largest and most luxurious passenger liner—and to an Atlantic crossing fraught with terror.
- Cemetery Dance (2009) — Pendergast returns to New York City. Some of his close friends have been brutally murdered. Pendergast and D'Agosta undertake a private quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them into a part of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive and deadly hotbed of Obeah, the West Indian Zombi cult of sorcery and magic.
The Diogenes Trilogy
- Brimstone (2004) (Book One) — Agent Pendergast and Vincent D'Agosta team up once more to investigate brutal murders of a seemingly supernatural origin. Their investigation takes them from high society New York to old world Italy and into the dark heart of an age-old conspiracy. Vincent D'Agosta, Laura Hayward, and Bill Smithback's nemesis, reporter Bryce Harriman (mentioned often in the previous books) make a reappearance. In this book the reader is introduced to Pendergast's brother Diogenes, and D'Agosta catches his first glimpse of Diogenes. The book also hints at a sequel to The Ice Limit
- Dance of Death (2005) (Book Two) — Aloysius Pendergast faces off against Diogenes in an attempt to stop his diabolical brother before he can complete the perfect crime. All of Pendergast's old compatriots find themselves in danger and old friends band together in the race to prevent an almost certain disaster. The novel features an all-star cast for Preston-Child fans and includes cameos from all of their books—even going so far as to include characters from the authors' non-Pendergast novels. The book also hints at a sequel to The Ice Limit.
- The Book of the Dead (2006) (Book Three) — The final book of the Diogenes Trilogy. The Book of the Dead picks up immediately following the conclusion of Dance of Death, with Diogenes Pendergast continuing his work towards the completion of his master crime. The majority of the action centers around the opening of the long closed (and cursed?) Tomb of Senef at the New York Museum of Natural History. The pursuers become the pursued, and the novel builds to a thrilling conclusion.
Notes and references