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Catch-all tag for a series of novels by authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, most of which feature FBI Special Agent Aloysius X.L. Pendergast. The novels tend to feature a mix of the police procedural, horror, and thriller genres. More often than not, the stories involve events that seem supernatural, but are eventually show to have a rational (if somewhat far-fetched) explanation.

Note that the series has no official title. This entry is named for Agent Pendergast because he appears in it more than any other character.

The novels so far (in publication order) are:

Agent Pendergast Novels

Other Novels


Now has a Character Sheet.

Tropes used in Agent Pendergast include:


  • All There in the Manual - The authors like to provide extra information on the Pendergast character through email newsletters.
  • Alone with the Psycho - Several times.
  • Animated Adaptation - In-Universe example: The end of Relic mentions a Saturday morning cartoon based on the events of the novel. Given how horrific those events were, it's not surprising that the show is mentioned as having been canceled.
  • Anti-Villain - The "Big Bad" in Mount Dragon. Despite using his entire staff as guinea pigs and selling bioweaponry to more unscrupulous members of the US Military, he believes what he's doing is crucial to the human race.
  • Anyone Can Die: A LOT. Averted with Margo in Dance of Death - Diogenes missed.
  • Appease the Volcano God - Diogenes would have most likely thrown Constance into the volcano.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism - You'd think that after a mutant dinosaur attacks the Museum of Natural History in New York, and after an army of human-dino hybrids attack the New York subway system, the citizens of New York and especially the bureaucratic decision-makers would be more open-minded concerning some of the wilder, seemingly paranormal events occurring in the later books.
  • Artifact of Doom - The MacGuffins in The Wheel of Darkness and Riptide; the former (the Agozyen) being a Tibetan painting that turns anyone who looks at it into a monsterous sociopath, and the latter (the Sword of St. Michael) being a sword forged from a meteor that's so radioactive it can kill everyone within a few square miles if taken out of its lead casket.
  • Asshole Victim - As a rule of thumb, if someone is a complete Jerkass, you can expect them to die a most satisfying death.
  • Awesome McCoolname - Aloysius Xingu L. Pendergast.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis - Pendergast. D'Agosta also gets better at this.
  • Ax Crazy - Diogenes.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit / Sharp-Dressed Man - Pendergast.
  • Battle Butler - Proctor.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy - John J. Audubon's artistic genius was the result of a rare form of avian flu that altered his brain chemistry.
  • Beware the Nice Ones - Pendergast, D'Agosta, Hayward, and even Nora.
  • The Big Easy - Where Pendergast comes from.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family - The Pendergasts (who were French Blue Blood originally). The more we learn about them, the more horrifying they become.
  • Break the Cutie - Never works out well for those who try it.
  • Break the Haughty - What seems to be happening to Pendergast from Fever Dream on.
  • Breakout Character - The main character in Relic and Reliquary was anthropology post-grad Margo Green, with FBI Agent Pendergast being a supporting character alongside Lt. D'Agosta. Indeed, in the movie version of Relic the Pendergast character was removed completely to focus on Green and D'Agosta instead. However, Pendergast proved so popular that the authors made him the focus of the following books in the series, so much so that the series of novels has become informally named after him.
  • Brown Note - The MacGuffin in The Wheel of Darkness either drives everyone who sees it insane, or turns them into monsterous sociopaths.
    • As does Diogenes' light and sound show intended to be his "ultimate crime" in Book of the Dead.
  • Butt Monkey: Smithback gets mangled quite often. By Cabinet of Curiosities, he seems upset and nervous just to see Pendergast again. He's probably anticipating what horrors he'll get into thanks to his involvement with the FBI agent this time around. Sadly, this comes to its ultimate apex and becomes no longer an issue as of Cemetery Dance.
  • Cain and Abel - Pendergast and his brother Diogenes. An inversion of the usual setup, since Diogenes is the younger of the pair.
  • Complete Monster - Subverted in the case of actual monsters.
    • The creature in question - Mbwun in Relic - is still responsible for horrific acts of violence, but it can't really help itself.
      • Neither can Job, in Still Life with Crows, who thinks he's really playing with toys instead of horrifically murdering people. The resolution involves his mother wondering where it all went wrong, and Pendergast points out that he didn't know because he never experienced morality for himself.
  • Crazy Prepared - Agent Pendergast takes this to Batman-like levels.
  • Create Your Own Villain - While Diogenes' evil was always presented as In the Blood, in Book of The Dead it's revealed that he's the way he is because when they were children, Pendergast shoved Diogenes into a family antique which turned out to be a device designed to drive the occupant insane. Pendergast is quite distraught when he realizes he created Diogenes all along (he'd suppressed the memory up until that point).
  • Cultured Badass - Pendergast.
  • Da Chief - Rocker.
  • Darkest Africa - One of the settings of Fever Dream.
  • Demoted to Extra - Margo Green was the original main character of Relic and Reliquary, but after that the focus of the series switch from her to Agent Pendergast, and she pretty quickly faded into the background, being promptly replaced by Thunderhead's heroine Nora Kelly as the series' main female supporting character.
  • Determined Widow - Nora Kelly in Cemetary Dance.
  • Due to the Dead - Pendergast says goodbye to the murdered Bill Smithback by way of a quiet tea ceremony in an inside zen garden in his apartment building.
  • Eccentric Millionaire - Pendergast borders on this.
  • Face Heel Turn - Dr. Frock in Reliquary.
  • Faking the Dead - Pendergast manages to pull this off in Dance of Death to make Diogenes think he has successfully killed Margo.
  • Goth - Corrie Swanson, the gloomy variety.
    • More annoyed than gloomy, and switches to Perky Goth at the end.
  • Grumpy Bear - D'Agosta, often.
  • Guile Hero - Pendergast.
  • Happily Married - Bill Smithback and Nora Kelly. Sadly, they don't have much time to enjoy it ...
  • Haunted House - The Baux Arts mansion that Pendergast inherited definitely qualifies.
  • Heroic Albino - Played with Pendergast. He looks like an albino, but he's just incredibly pale.
  • Hollywood Voodoo - In Cemetery Dance. It turns out to be a sham, of course.
  • Hot-Blooded - Both Vincent D'Agosta (all the time) and Laura Hayward (occasionally).
  • Hot Scientist - Quite a few.
  • Immortality Immorality - Central to the plot of The Cabinet of Curiosities, which involves a formula for extending human life that seems to require extracting living human spines for one of the ingredients.
  • Instant Mystery, Just Delete Scene: The authors commonly build suspense by switching back and forth between characters' story lines at critical moments.
  • Interdisciplinary Sleuth - Pendergast.
  • Intrepid Reporter - Bill Smithback.
  • Killed Off for Real - Smithback in Cemetery Dance.
  • The Man Behind the Man - In Relic, the authors' first novel, the character of Dr. Kawakita is always at the edge of events, never participating directly, and his presence in the story only seems to be to show him as brilliant, cunning, and amoral, with a Sequel Hook ending that seems to be setting him up as the Big Bad of any following novel, being the only character to deduce Mbwun's true nature and planning to exploit it for his own personal gain. In the sequel, Reliquary, Kawakita is already dead before the story even begins, a fact which is revealed very early on. Instead it turns out that The Obi-Wan Dr. Frock is the main villain, having been transformed into a megalomaniacal sociopath by a modified version of Kawakita's Mbwun serum.
    • In Fever Dream, the identity of The Man Behind the Man is revealed remarkably early in the novel instead of saved for the end, especially as it's something of a twist. However, the characters themselves never discover this.
  • Martial Pacifist - Pendergast.
  • Mismatched Eyes - Diogenes.
  • Never Found the Body - Diogenes but come on, No One Could Survive That.
  • Non-Idle Rich - Pendergast certainly doesn't work for the money.
  • Not So Stoic - Pendergast in Cemetery Dance and Fever Dream.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor/Open-Heart Dentistry - At the climax of The Cabinet of Curiosities, the serial killer known as The Surgeon surgically exposes Smithback's spine, then leaves him to bleed to death while he goes off to fight Pendergast. Nora Kelly, a Dr. of archaeology, has to stitch Smithback back up (no small task; remember, exposed spine) then administer IV fluid to prevent him from flat-lining from blood loss. Lampshaded by Kelly's internal monologue remarking how insane the situation is; also, after being stabilized by Nora, Smithback still needs to be operated on by an actual doctor to treat his injury and save his life.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat - All over the place, with an especially thick concentration around the New York Museum of Natural History.
  • Odd Couple - Pendergast and D'Agosta.
  • Omniglot - Pendergast. Who else?
  • Our Hero Is Dead - The end of Brimstone.
  • Parental Substitute - Pendergast, to Corrie.
  • Playful Hacker - Mime.
  • Playing Drunk - Pendergast does this a lot, mostly amongst the homeless.
  • Police Are Useless - Averted with dedicated, competent characters like Vincent D'Agosta and Laura Hayward. Just as often played straight with their superiors.
    • Appears to be the case with the Kansas Police in Still Life with Crows... Until the Obstructive Cop was really just wanting a chance to solve something for himself, and helps Pendergast take down the killer.
    • The Italian police in Brimstone actually are quite helpful and forthcoming, at least until the end when D'Agosta fingers one of the country's most influential and prominent figures as the Big Bad, right up to convincing the police to storm the guy's fortress... then fails to produce any supporting evidence. Mortified and humiliated, the formerly helpful Italian police captain quickly turns on him.
  • Psychopathic Manchild - The real killer in Still Life with Crows.
  • Really One Hundred Twenty Years Old - Constance Greene.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure - Hayward in the later books.
  • Sacrificial Lamb - Moriarty in Relic.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax - While several of the novels do contain genuine supernatural or fantasy elements, the main threat always turns out to be a human villain masquerading as a more supernatural monster. The first two novels, Relic and Reliquary, are a notable exception in that there really is a horrific otherworldly monster running around.
    • Brimstone and Cemetery Dance are the most notable, as the villains' schemes follow the formula of a Scooby Doo episode right down to the letter (other than multiple murders being involved, of course).
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right - Pendergast lives on this trope.
  • Self-Deprecation - Pendergast occasionally voices his disdain for modern popular fiction, particularly of the sort that Preston & Child write.
  • Story Arc - Brimstone, Dance of Death, and Book of the Dead.
    • Relic and Reliquary.
    • Fever Dream and Cold Vengeance, with the next book in the series presumably concluding the trilogy.
  • Sure Why Not - The fans agreed on the name 'Helen' for Pendergast's wife long before it ever appeared in Canon. As of Fever Dream we know that's actually her name.
  • They Do - Nora and Smithback, and D'Agosta and Hayward. Pendergast himself hasn't officially committed to anyone since his wife died.
  • Torches and Pitchforks - A mob burned down the Pendergast mansion in New Orleans.
  • Tragic Monster - Mbwun, once its full origin is revealed.
    • Job, the killer in Still Life with Crows.
  • Tsundere - Margo, somewhat, in the film and in Reliquary (in the latter, it's due to her experience with Mbwun). Susana Cabeza de Vaca in Mount Dragon, who even gets together with Carson.
  • Ultimate Job Security - Pendergast has been threatened with getting fired countless times for unorthodox and occasionally downright illegal procedures, but still retains his job at the FBI.
  • The Watson - Anyone who works with Pendergast, but especially D'Agosta. Lampshaded in the way Pendergast talks with him.
  • What the Hell, Hero? - Laura Hayward gives one to Pendergast in Fever Dream when D'Agosta gets shot.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy - Pendergast looks like one.
  • Zombie Apocalypse - The end goal in Reliquary, which would cause the human race to kill themselves, and allow rat/reptile things to rule the earth.
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