Aloysius Pendergast

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This article is about a fictional character. For other uses of the name, see Pendergast.
Aloysius Pendergast
First appearance Relic
Last appearance Blue Labyrinth
Created by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Gender Male
Occupation Special agent with FBI
Title Dual Doctor of Philosophy(Classics and Philosophy)
Spouse(s) Helen Pendergast
Children Tristram Pendergast, Alban Pendergast
Relatives See The Pendergast family

Aloysius Xingu L. Pendergast is a fictional character appearing in novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. He first appeared as a supporting character in their first novel, Relic, and in its sequel Reliquary, before assuming the protagonist role in The Cabinet of Curiosities.

Pendergast is a special agent with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He is a favorite among fans for his unique personality, cultural discernment, and his almost preternatural 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.


Aloysius Xingu L Pendergast was born circa 1960 and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Pendergast retains his Southern manners and mellifluous Deep Southern accent. He studied Anthropology at Harvard University (graduating summa cum laude) and received a dual Doctor of Philosophy degree in Classics and Philosophy from Oxford University in England (which one of Oxford's component colleges he attended has never been specified).[1]

Pendergast once served with the U.S. Special Forces. Most of his military records are classified and unknown.

A number of years before the series began, Pendergast was married to Helen Esterhazy Pendergast. She was presumed killed in a hunting accident while in Africa (mauled by a lion), but reappears in the so-called Helen Trilogy.

Pendergast is generally described as being stoically aloof and eccentric, though his ineffable politeness and unerring intellect imbue him with an irresistible charm or enigmatic sense of danger if the occasion should call for it. Well-learned in many subjects, he converses easily with doctors, scientists, intellectuals, vagabonds, highly specialized masters of specific disciplines, and people of a wide variety of language and culture alike. He is a master of psychological manipulation, disguise, and improvisation.

Pendergast appreciates the finer things in life, including expensive cuisine and wines. Foods and drinks he enjoys include Château Pétrus wine, antipasto, green tea of only the purest and most spiritual kind, gelato, and steak tartare. He has a great distaste for opera. His interests encompass a wide variety of vastly differing walks of life, yet all focus on the enlightenment of the human mind, body, and soul. 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 polyglot, demonstrating mastery of French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Portuguese and Cantonese, and appears semi-fluent in Mandarin. He also has some knowledge of Japanese.


Pendergast is always described as tall and slender, though it is revealed that he is fit, graceful in movement and physically powerful despite his slight frame. His coloring is pale enough that many people refer to him as "corpse-like" or jokingly as "albino". He has platinum blond hair and ice-blue eyes that often look grey in different lighting. Pendergast religiously dresses in a black, hand-tailored suit made of a special blend of wool not made since the 1950s, and is consequently described as looking like an undertaker.

In many cases, Pendergast's normal appearance is irrelevant. A master of disguises, he has fooled even close acquaintances on several occasions.


Pendergast owns a pair of 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraiths (one each in New York and Louisiana); his chauffeur and personal assistant is a mysterious man named Proctor. All of Pendergast's suits are custom-made in Italy, and his shoes hand-made by John Lobb of London.

His personal sidearm is usually a customized .45 Caliber Les Baer Government Model M1911 pistol. In Relic he carried a .45 Colt Anaconda double-action revolver. He has also mentioned a Signature Grade Colt 1911 .45ACP tuned by pistolsmith Hilton Yam (now owner of 10-8 Consulting) that has not been seen outside a hypnotherapy session.

Pendergast maintains an apartment at The Dakota in New York City, and later inherits an internally renovated Beaux Arts mansion near Harlem from his great-granduncle in The Cabinet of Curiosities. In his apartment there is a fully furnished zen garden where Pendergast likes to take time to meditate before a new challenge.

Though he is a scrupulously scientific man, he wears a sort of talisman or amulet on a chain, that consists of his own modified version of the Pendergast family crest: a lidless eye over two moons, one new and one full, with a phoenix (the original version featured a lion).

Pendergast carries a variety of hidden tools, such as lock picks, flashlights of various sizes, test tubes, syringes, and forensic chemicals.

Friends and relations[edit]

The Pendergast family[edit]

Officially, the Pendergast's family wealth came from pharmaceuticals, and the family became sufficiently old and established in New Orleans to conduct themselves as aristocracy. However, there are hints that the fortune actually came from patent medicine ("snake oil"), and that some of the family's customers suffered permanent injury or even death from its effects.

Pendergast also confides, to his shame, that a streak of insanity has afflicted his family for generations, such that many of them have been convicted of horrible crimes, and ended their lives in asylums.

  • Diogenes Dagrepont Bernoulli Pendergast – Pendergast's younger brother (born circa 1962). As intelligent as Aloysius, if not more so, but criminally insane. Although he was always a unique child, Diogenes was pushed over the edge during a traumatic event during their childhoods, resulting in brain damage and heterochromia iridis. Diogenes is first mentioned in Brimstone, after which he commits a series of grisly murders, which he frames Aloysius for, then a daring theft from the New York Museum of Natural History, to be completed with a horrific mass murder under circumstances similar to the "Event" during his childhood. Aloysius breaks out of prison with the help of his allies, only clearing his name later, and thwarts Diogenes' last crime. The three novels Brimstone, Dance of Death, and The Book of the Dead make up an internal series about the unique fraternal relationship between Aloysius and Diogenes, culminating in the latter's death. These are known as the "Diogenes Trilogy". Sherlock Holmes fans will undoubtedly recognize Preston's and Child's homage to Doyle's famous works, in both their choice of first name for Aloysius Pendergast's brother, and in the circumstances of Diogenes's demise.
  • Cornelia Delamere Pendergast – Pendergast's great-aunt, who poisoned her husband, brother and children. Cornelia held residence at the Mount Mercy Hospital for the Criminally Insane until her death. Despite her complete insanity, Pendergast still considered her wise, and sought her counsel when he had a dilemma. Sometime during the events of Fever Dream, Cornelia dies, leaving Pendergast a letter of unknown content.
  • Antoine Leng Pendergast (a.k.a. Enoch Leng) – Pendergast's great-grand uncle. Traveled north to New York after being expelled from the Pendergast family. 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 well into the late 20th century, until he was murdered in his home on Riverside Drive. Pendergast now lives in Leng's old mansion on Riverside Drive, with Proctor as butler/chauffeur. He has refurnished the mansion and made it liveable and quite elegant.
  • 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 Glandular 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.
  • Boethius Pendergast – Pendergast's great-grandfather. Lived at the Penumbra, was good friends with famed naturalist painter, John James Audubon (However, in Fever Dream it is also mentioned that it was Pendergast's great-great-grandfather who was friends with Audubon. Furthermore, in Blue Labyrinth it is mentioned that Pendergast's great-great-great-grandfather was friends with Audubon.).
  • Helen Pendergast – Pendergast's thought-to-be deceased wife (maiden name Helen Esterhazy). Helen was a doctor with Doctors With Wings, a group similar to Doctors Without Borders that travels to third-world countries and disaster areas to help people who would have otherwise had little chance of survival. She is a skilled big game hunter, and it was one of the pastimes that brought her and Pendergast together. For many years, she was thought to have been killed on an African safari, but she reappears in the book Cold Vengeance. She is a descendant of the Hungarian Esterházy aristocratic family.
  • Judson Esterhazy – Pendergast's brother-in-law. Like his sister Helen, he was a doctor with Doctors With Wings and is a skilled hunter. He plays an important role in the "Helen Trilogy".
  • Percy Harrison Fawcett – Pendergast's great-great uncle on his mother’s side. He was an explorer and disappeared in the jungles along the Upper Xingu River (hence Pendergast's middle name) in 1925 while looking for the mysterious Lost City of Z.
  • Tristram – Pendergast's child with Helen.
  • Alban – Identical twin of Tristram, a genetically engineered person, more intelligent and stronger than his father. Deceased as of the events in Blue Labyrinth (2014).


Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast appears in several stand-alone novels and stars in two trilogies. All of these books have been jointly written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Stand-alone novels[edit]

  • 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 book also hints at a sequel to The Ice Limit.
  • 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. Two of his close friends have been attacked by a man who is supposedly dead. 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.
  • White Fire (2013) – Corrie Swanson sets out to solve a long-forgotten mystery. In 1876, in a remote mining camp called Roaring Fork in the Colorado Rockies, several miners were killed in devastating grizzly bear attacks. Now the town has become an exclusive ski resort and its historic cemetery has been dug up to make way for development. Corrie has arranged to examine the remains of the dead miners. But in doing so she makes a shocking discovery that threatens the resort's very existence. The town's leaders, trying to stop her from exposing their community's dark and bloody past, arrest and jail her. Special Agent Pendergast of the FBI arrives to help—just as a series of brutal arson attacks on multimillion dollar homes terrify the town and drive away tourists. Drawn irresistibly into the investigation, Pendergast discovers an unlikely secret in Roaring Fork's past, connecting the resort to a chance meeting between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. With the town under siege, and Corrie's life in desperate danger, Pendergast must solve the riddle of the past... before the town of present goes up in flames.
  • Blue Labyrinth (2014) – involving the surprising murder of someone close to Pendergast... an abandoned resort on the shores of the Salton Sea... a 19th-century mercy killing... the Museum... a missing long bone... a rare turquoise... Constance enraged...[2]

The Diogenes trilogy[edit]

  • Brimstone (2004) (Book One) – The murder of a notorious art critic triggers a wave of panic when reporter Bryce Harriman runs a sensationalised story claiming the death is the work of the devil incarnate. Pendergast takes an interest in the case, and with D'Agosta at his side, follows the killer to Italy. There they discover the existence of a legendary Stradivarius violin, and a ruthless Italian count who will stop at nothing to claim it for himself.
  • Dance of Death (2005) (Book Two) – With Pendergast missing and presumed to be dead, Vincent D'Agosta returns to New York City to fulfil Pendergast's last request: to stop his brother, Diogenes, from carrying out the perfect crime. But when Pendergast is rescued and nursed back to health by his brother, he realises that Diogenes' scheme is far more chilling than he first thought.
  • The Book of the Dead (2006) (Book Three) – Diogenes Pendergast has been stopped for now, but Aloysius Pendergast has been sent to prison, awaiting trial for his life—assuming he lives long enough to be executed. As D'Agosta attempts to break him out of prison, Laura Hayward investigates a series of bizarre killings centred on the long-closed Tomb of Senef at the New York Museum of Natural History. Convinced that Aloysius is innocent, she begins to question Diogenes' involvement in the museum, and the terrifying crime he plans to commit in front of the eyes of the world.

The Helen trilogy[edit]

  • Fever Dream (2010) (Book One) – Pendergast inadvertently discovers evidence that his wife Helen's death twelve years was not the accident that he had believed it to be. He and D'Agosta follow the trail of evidence from the plains of Africa to the Louisiana bayou, untangling a conspiracy as they go and discover the startling truth about Helen's life.
  • Cold Vengeance (2011) (Book Two) – The conspiracy that murdered his wife is no more, but Pendergast will not rest until every last person involved is brought to justice. Chasing the final conspirator across the moors of Scotland, Pendergast stumbles into a far greater danger than he ever knew existed: the Covenant ("Der Bund" in German), a network of Nazis and Nazi sympathisers that have retreated from public view to influence events on a global scale.
  • Two Graves (2012) (Book Three) – Pendergast's bloodlust continues as he chases those responsible for the abduction of Helen, who was revealed to have been alive and well for the past twelve years at the climax of Cold Vengeance. But a new threat intrudes upon Pendergast's chase: a serial killer who holds New York City in the grip of terror.

Short Stories[edit]

  • Extraction (Short Story) (2009) – Pendergast tells the story of how Diogenes and he encountered a local urban legend as children, a man acting as the Tooth Fairy.
  • Gaslighted: Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy vs. Aloysius Pendergast (2014) – (Written with R.L. Stine) Pendergast wakes up in Stony Mountain Sanatorium and confronts himself with a great dilemma: is Slappy The Dummy part of his dream? Or is reality itself the dream of an insane man?


  1. ^ Child, Lincoln and Preston, Douglas. "Authors Preston & Child Interview Special Agent Pendergast". The Authors. Retrieved July 15, 2005. 
  2. ^ Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (January 20, 2014). "Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child Facebook Page". Facebook. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]