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Last Updated onThe Pendergast series by the author duo Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is one of the most popular thriller series with a hint of supernatural that has been written in the last 25 years. Special Agent Pendergast is an iconic character that many authors have tried to emulate over the years.
Here are the books in the Pendergast series in order, updated with the latest book as soon as it is published. If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend you do it fast. Reading the books in order for this series is almost a must.
New Pendergast Book
Pendergast Series in Order
- The Relic (Pendergast #1), 1995
- Reliquary (Pendergast #2), 1997
- The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast #3), 2002
- Still Life with Crows (Pendergast #4), 2003
- Brimstone (Pendergast #5), 2004
- The Dance of Death (Pendergast #6), 2005
- The Book of the Dead (Pendergast #7), 2006
- The Wheel of Darkness (Pendergast #8), 2007
- Cemetery Dance (Pendergast #9), 2009
- Fever Dream (Pendergast #10), 2010
- Cold Vengeance (Pendergast #11), 2011
- Two Graves (Pendergast #12), 2012
- Extraction, 2012 (Pendergast #12.5)
- White Fire (Pendergast #13), 2013
- Blue Labyrinth (Pendergast #14), 2014
- Crimson Shore (Pendergast #15), 2015
- The Obsidian Chamber (Pendergast #16), 2016
- City of Endless Night (Pendergast #17), 2018
- Verses for the Dead (Pendergast #18), 2018
- Crooked River (Pendergast #19), 2020
Who Is Special Agent Pendergast
Special Agent Pendergast – full name Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast – is an FBI agent who works out of the New Orleans office. He is more often than not on the road all over the country, chasing predatory serial killers.
He was born in 1960 in the South to a wealthy family. He attended Harvard University where he studied Anthropology. He received his dual Doctor of Philosophy degree in Classics and Philosophy in England, while studying at Oxford College.
Before becoming an FBI agent, he was part of the Ghost Company in the U.S. Special Forces. One of the person he was with here is Proctor, who now is his driver and butler.
Earlier on (before the Pendergast series started), he married Helen Esterhazy Pendergast, but initially, she is not at the beginning of the series in the books as she was apparently killed in Africa in a hunting accident, something that haunts Pendergast even till today. She does appear in the sub-trilogy named Helen (Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, Two Graves), but I won’t spoil it as to how she got to come back and in which capacity.
The first thing anyone thinks of Pendergast after reading even just the first book of the series, The Relic, is that Pendergast is eccentric to the bone. Also aloof and not much caring for the conventional FBI methods. Often, he goes beyond what is called professional to catch his bad guy. And usually, in Pendergast’s world, the bad guys are truly evil. Some even with supernatural powers.
He is a tall and skinny person, slender. Yet, he is very fit, and has knowledge of several fighting forms. He has a very pale skin, which makes some people very uncomfortable when meeting him for the first time, while others simply say he is an albino. He is, however, a master at disguise, and often, during his cases, people who actually know him meet him and don’t recognize him at all.
He is also polite to a fault in dealing with anyone. He never raises his voice, and he never shouts. You would think he is a marble statue, as very few (close) friends of his can actually see any traces of real emotion on his face.
He is also extremely charismatic, has an undeniable charm and uses it when needed, and he is very knowledgeable in many subjects, including part of science, medicine, the intellectual world, and even the underworld.
He is a poliglot, meaning he speaks several languages fluently, including Cantonese, French, Italian, Greek, Latin, and Portuguese. He is semi-fluent in Mandarin and also speaks Japanese a little.
Special Agent Pendergast loves expensive cuisine and good wine. He does hate opera, but he loves meditating and nourishing his soul. Earlier on, he spent a year in Tibet where he learned the art of Chongg Ran, an esoteric mental discipline involving a deep meditative state.
The Pendergast family was a wealthy one, which started their good fortune in pharmaceuticals. They were aristocrats, and Pendergast, through his stature, pose, and manner, including speech, carries that legacy well.
Pendergast has such a strong influence on those around him that even when he is not mentioned in some chapters of any book, his presence is felt quite strongly, and his personality dominates everyone’s minds, including that of the book readers.
How to Read the Pendergast Series in Order
While the Pendergast series is rather cohesive, there are sub-series that are focused on a particular aspect, all revolving around Pendergast in one way or another.
The first two books, Relic and Reliquary, form the initial duology, which sets the slightly supernatural aspect of the series. Pendergast is introduced right in the first book, along with characters that would follow him in next books, including Vincent D’Agosta, Margo Green, and reporter Bill Smithback. The second book also introduces Laura Hayward. All these first books take place in New York. After it’s publication, Relic alone sold over one million copies.
The third book, Cabinet of Curiosities, while it is not a direct sequel to the first two books, is also set in New York, and the main characters also appear.
Still Life with Crows is a standalone novel set in midwestern Kansas, where Pendergast has to solve a brutal ritualistic murders.
The next three books, Brimstone, Dance of Death, and Book of Death, form the next trilogy featuring Diogenes, Pendergast’s evil mastermind brother. Vincent D’Agosta is the main secondary character that features in these books along with Pendergast.
The Wheel of Darkness and Cemetery Dance are, again, standalone cases that FBI Agent Pendergast has to solve. The first involves Tibet and Constance, Pendergast’s ward, and the second one takes him back to New York where he has to deal with one of his friends having been murdered.
Next, we have a new trilogy featuring Helen, Pendergast’s apparently dead wife, which includes Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, and Two Graves.
While the newer novels in the series could be read as standalones, reading the Pendergast books in order is recommended, as most of the FBI agent’s entourage is back, and some cases deal with people from earlier books, while others simply push forward new cases involving D’Agosta, Constance, and even Diogenes.
In addition, The Obsidian Chamber is a direct sequel to Crimson Shore, as they both deal with the disappearance of Pendergast, and with Proctor.
Also, Pendergast is a very complex character, and his background and main traits slowly unfold from book to book. In addition, we all love his relationship with his ward, Constance. Initially, the books don’t include her all that much, but the newer books explore this relationship quite in depth, revealing some interesting hidden truths.
Is There a Pendergast TV Series?
After the initial movie based on the first book of the series, Relic, for the longest time there was nothing on the horizon for the big screen or TV. However, in the recent years, Paramount took over the development of a new Pendergast TV series, which was going quite well until 2017, when the project eventually got the axe.
The screenwriter John McLaughlin was working on the plot, apparently which was based on The Cabinet of Curiosities, and things were moving along nicely. It is unclear what exactly happened, but the TV show is no longer in the works.
At least for now.
Praise for the Pendergast Book Series
Fast-moving, sophisticated and bursting with surprises… If you’re willing to surrender to Preston and Child’s fiendish imaginations, you might devour the Pendergast books the way kids do Halloween candy…There’s nothing else like them. (The Washington Post)
Preston & Child once again bring A.X.L. Pendergast to life and offer up a host of thrills, heart-pumping action, and an intricate plot that pits a vengeful killer against (still) the most interesting character in fiction. (Suspense Magazine)
The sequel to the popular Relic hits all the right buttons for those looking for thrills and chills from things that go bump in the night…. Another page-turner that cries out for translation to the silver screen. (The Orlando Sentinel)
Absolutely terrific thriller….[Preston & Child] score another big winner. Highly recommended. (Library Journal)
Pendergast continues to be one of thrillerdom’s most exciting and intriguing series leads. (Booklist)
Preston, Child, and their well-known characters are always sheer perfection! (Suspense)