This article is about a fictional character. For other uses of the name, see Pendergast
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Aloysius Xingú Leng 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 Xingú Leng 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).Child, Lincoln and Preston, Douglas. "Authors Preston & Child Interview Special Agent Pendergast". The Authors. http://www.twbookmark.com/authorslounge/articles/2004/september/article19440.html. Retrieved July 15, 2005.
Pendergast once served with the U.S. Special Forces.
A number of years before the series began, Pendergast was married to Helen Esterhazy Pendergast. She was presumed killed in a hunting accident, 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. His cloistered and elegant habitat in the famed Dakota building of Manhattan, NY, has been described as being elegant yet sparsely furnished. It contains well-tended bonsai trees and a large waterfall cascading down one wall.
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 Italian, Latin, Greek, 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 jokingly refer to him as being albino. He has platinum blond hair and grey eyes. 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 Wraith (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 revolver described as a five-shot .45 Colt Anaconda double-action revolver. He has also mentioned a Signature Grade 1911 .45ACP made by Hilton Yam 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
The Pendergast family
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 (until Proctor's death). 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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. This novel also hints at a 2nd 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.
The Helen trilogy
- Fever Dream (2010) (Book One) – The following excerpt was gathered from the website of the authors: At the old family manse in Louisiana, Special Agent Pendergast is putting to rest long-ignored possessions reminiscent of his wife Helen's tragic death, only to make a stunning-and dreadful-discovery. Helen had been mauled by an unusually large and vicious lion while they were big game hunting in Africa. But now, Pendergast learns that her rifle-her only protection from the beast-had been deliberately loaded with blanks. Who could have wanted Helen dead...and why? With Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta's assistance, Pendergast embarks on a quest to uncover the mystery of his wife's murder. It is a journey that sends him deep into her past where he learns much that Helen herself had wished to keep hidden. Helen Pendergast had nursed a secret obsession with the famed naturalist-painter John James Audubon, in particular a long-lost painting of his known as the Black Frame. As Pendergast probes more deeply into the riddle-the answer to which is revealed in a night of shocking violence, deep in the Louisiana bayou-he finds himself faced with an even greater question: who was the woman he married?
- Cold Vengeance (2011) (Book Two) – Nothing is what it seems... Devastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple. As he stalks his wife's betrayers—a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York City and the darkest bayous of Louisiana—he is also forced to dig further into Helen's past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder. Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined—and everything he's believed, everything he's trusted, everything he's understood... may be a horrific lie.agentpendergast.com
- Two Graves (Book Three) - The thrilling conclusion to the Helen Trilogy will be published in December 2012.