The Pendergast series is a collection of stories written by Douglas Preston in collaboration with Lincoln Child.
They are classed as techno thriller series, but also cross over into other genres of mystery, crime, horror, science fiction and more.
Douglas Preston is an American journalist and author. He began his career as a writer and editor, most notably working for the American Museum of Natural History.
In this line of work he crossed paths with Lincoln Child, an editor and author.
Douglas and Lincoln began working together on a story set in the museum, and this became the first book in the Pendergast series.
Both writers have also released their own solo work as well as coming together to write many books in the Pendergast series, the Gideon series, and 7 standalone novels.
The first Pendergast book was adapted into a film. There were quite a few differences between the book and the film, and some fans weren’t happy with the adaptation.
There were discussions of the book series being made into a television series, but this hasn’t happened yet.
About The Pendergast Books
The Pendergast books focus on the main character – FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast.
Many people think that Pendergast, and the series itself, is based loosely on Sherlock Holmes.
Pendergast is rich, has a lot of freedom when it comes to the cases he works on, and he also happens to be rich.
Pendergast’s character shares some of Sherlock Holmes’ sociopathic traits too, and he doesn’t have the best communication skills.
Pendergast is joined by a rich and varied cast of characters while he solves gruesome crimes. The characters are well-developed, and many of them appear repeatedly in the series.
As you progress through the series, you will gain a deeper understanding of the Pendergast universe and the people in it.
The first book is set in the New York Museum of Natural History, where a string of savage murders is taking place.
The series gradually expands into more supernatural themes and stories. Fans of this series enjoy the approach that Pendergast takes to solving mysteries.
He is unusual and unorthodox, and the way that the information is gradually revealed keeps you hooked.
The Pendergast Books In Order
This is the correct order to read the Pendergast books in.
When two bodies are found in the series of unmapped vaults underneath the museum, the NYPD suspect a homicidal maniac.
Agent Pendergast begins to investigate and fears they might be facing something much worse.
- The main character is an interesting and well-developed protagonist
- The middle of the book dragged a little and lost pace
Agent Pendergast teams up with museum curator Margo Green to investigate two grotesque skeletons that are found in the mud off the shoreline of Manhattan.
To solve the mystery they must go deep underground and risk awakening what lies in slumber there.
- This is a quick read and has a good pace
- The storyline is not as well-thought-out as the first book
When construction workers uncover a basement filled with dismembered bodies, agent Pendergast is called to investigate.
It turns out the bodies are 130 years old, and were meticulously immured.
When a recently murdered body displays the same mutilations as the bodies in the basement, the case gets more complicated.
- The book has a spooky theme and is well-written overall
- The book lost pace halfway through and the ending was a little underwhelming
When a series of gruesome murders takes place in a small, remote farming town, the locals rely on the expertise of agent Pendergast to crack the case.
It turns out that the key to understanding the present is to unlock the secrets of the past.
- The gruesome murders make for an interesting case and a mysterious plot
- The ending felt a little bit convenient and there isn’t as much classic detective work
When the smoldering remains of an art critic are found in the attic of a Hamptons home, agent Pendergast hopes to find a simple solution to the mystery.
But as the investigation progresses, the signs point to a supernatural culprit more evil than he could imagine.
- The characters are excellent, with a returning character from the second book
- The pace felt a little slow in some parts
Agent Pendergast comes head to head with his arch nemesis – his brother Diogenes.
Pendergast is framed for a murder he didn’t commit, is on the run from the authorities, and must rely on the help of his old friend Lieutenant D’Agosta to help him stop his brother.
- The introduction of Diogenes as a nemesis is a great plot point
- Some of the storyline felt a bit too far-fetched
Diogenes is continuing to cause trouble, but how can agent Pendergast stop him from inside a maximum security prison?
Meanwhile, the New York Museum Of Natural History opens an Egyptian tomb, accidentally releasing an ancient curse that starts taking lives.
Can Pendergast regain his freedom in time to crack the case?
- The combination of characters in this book makes for an excellent story
- This book is a bit slow to get started and doesn’t pick up pace until the middle
Agent Pendergast is called to Tibet to recover a secret artifact stolen from a monastery. Along with his ward, Constance, Pendergast tracks the artifact down to a cruise liner.
There is a lot more at stake than they first thought, and Pendergast and Constance find themselves in a race against time to stop a dark presence taking over the ship, and the world.
- The cruiseliner setting was exciting and different
- Some of the plot points were a bit complicated and hard to follow
When Pendergast returns to New York, he and D’Agosta have to investigate the death of a close friend and his wife.
The case looks promising when an eyewitness comes forward, but the man they identify as the killer died 10 days before the attack.
Pendergast must use his unorthodox methods to uncover the truth. They stray from the official police inquiry, following a lead that takes them to the underbelly of Manhattan.
This is where they must find a reclusive voodoo cult that could hold the answers and help them crack the case.
- This is a well-written, fast-paced mystery that will keep you hooked
- One of the plot twists might frustrate some readers
Agent Pendergast returns to Louisiana to visit his family and is reminded of his late wife who died 12 years ago.
As he spends some time reminiscing and going through her possessions, he makes a discovery that leads him to question whether her death was accidental after all.
He must uncover the truth behind a hidden secret, a dark obsession, and find out who his wife actually was.
- This case is very personal which makes the book emotive and enticing
- The character of Pendergast seems quite different in this book which is jarring
After discovering that his wife was in fact murdered, Agent Pendergast is looking for revenge.
To track down her betrayers he must travel from New York to Scotland to Louisiana to dig further into her past.
When it comes to light that Pendergast’s wife might have been complicit in her own murder, it takes him down an unexpected path.
- This is a well-written and exciting book with a gripping storyline
- There seems to be a shift of genre into the thriller category which some readers might not like
After discovering that his wife is still alive, Pendergast is devastated when she is kidnapped.
Pendergast does what he can to track her down in the days following her abduction, but all the leads go cold and he gets nowhere.
When he returns to New York, the kidnappers leave him a deadly message using homicide crime scenes.
Pendergast has a renewed vigor for the case, and the search for his wife takes him to South America, where an old evil lurks in the dark forest. It is not just his wife’s life that is at stake, but the fate of the whole world.
- This is a fast-paced book that is very quick to read
- Some of the wording felt repetitive, and the revelations fell a bit flat
This book goes back in time to when Pendergast and his brother were growing up in New Orleans.
When Diogenes loses a tooth, Pendergast decides to test out the myth about the tooth fairy – an old man with an evil spirit who must be appeased with teeth.
- This is a fast read with a creepy, engrossing storyline
- It feels a little out of place with the rest of the series and doesn’t further the overall plot
This book focuses on Corrie Swanson, a forensic pathologist. In 1876, eleven miners were killed in a remote mining camp in the Rocky Mountains.
Their bodies were mutilated, but it looked like something more sinister than a bear attack. In the present day, the miners final resting place is uncovered.
When Corrie studies the bones, she is disturbed by what she finds. Corrie exposes a lethal conspiracy that is centuries old, but still poses a threat.
- This book has a return character from a previous book which is an interesting feature
- Some of the plot points are predictable and obvious
When agent Pendergast finds a body dumped on his doorstep there are few leads to work with – except for a piece of turquoise in the victim’s stomach.
Pendergast traces the gem’s origins to an abandoned mine in California where he comes face to face with the killer.
But it’s not just any murder that Pendergast is investigating – it is the murder of his son.
- The writing style is good and there are some excellent descriptions
- The second half of the book felt rushed
Pendergast and Constance are reunited to investigate a seemingly simple theft, but it turns out to be something much darker.
They uncover a serial burial chamber in Massachusetts, with claw marks and fragments of bone. When a local historian is murdered in the salt marshes, the state of his body is quite disturbing.
He has been mutilated, and arcade symbols have been carved into his body. His death seems to be connected to what was found in the burial chamber.
A dark secret dating back to the Salem witch trials could be the missing piece of the puzzle.
- The tension built steadily throughout the novel
- The ending seemed unconnected to the rest of the story
When Pendergast goes missing under supernatural circumstances in Massachusetts, Constance’s feels lost.
Still recovering from the harrowing events, she retreats to the family mansion, where she is abducted by a mysterious person from her past.
Without Pendergast around to help her, Constance fears the worst.
But Pendergast’s loyal bodyguard uses his resources to try and track down Constance and return her to safety.
His search will show him things he never wanted to see, and will disturb things that should have been left well alone.
- Overall, the plot was well thought out
- The characters were not as strong in this book which made the story less interesting
D’Agosta is investigating the murder of Grace, a millionaire’s daughter who was reported missing.
Her body is found, but the head has been removed and it is not with the body.
Grace’s murder turns out to be the first in a series of connected murders, and every victim has been decapitated. But where are the heads of the victims?
As winter settles across New York and snow begins to fall, Pendergast and D’Agosta must work hard to find the mysterious killers before any more lives are lost.
- Pendergast is back as a main character in this book which helps to carry the story
- The villain is not as interesting or chilling as in previous books
When the FBI is re-structured, Pendegast is forced to work with a partner – Special Agent Coldmoon. Reluctantly, they take on their first case.
They find themselves in Florida to investigate a series of ritualistic murders.
The killer is taking the hearts of his victims and leaving them on the headstones of existing graves- the graves of women who committed suicide.
What do the cryptic letters mean, and who is Mr Brokenhearts?
As Pendergast begins to connect the dots between the old suicides and the new murders, he realizes that this case is part of a decades old conspiracy.
- Some exciting new characters are introduced into this novel
- This book didn’t have as much of a spooky atmosphere as some of the others
When dozens of identical shoes, each containing a severed foot, wash up on a quiet beach in Florida, Agent Pendergast is called to investigate.
Are the victims still alive, or is this a murder investigation? The endless pathologist reports don’t seem to shed any light on the case.
Will Pendergast be able to get to the bottom of the case in time?
- The plot is interesting and keeps you intrigued
- The subplot wasn’t smoothly worked into the book and some of it felt rushed
When an unknown killer leaves a trail of bodies drained of blood in Savannah, Georgia, the locals fear that the Savannah vampire has returned.
It could be a copycat, but the local police need the help of the FBI to get to the bottom of it.
Pendergast and Coldmoon travel to Savannah to solve the mystery. But how is this case linked to the only unsolved sky-jacking case in American history?
When Flight 305 from Portland to Seattle was hijacked 50 years ago, the culprit collected a ransom and disappeared. Could they be connected to the murders in Savannah?
- This book goes back to the supernatural style of the earlier novels in the series
- The ending leaves a lot of unanswered questions
When Constance travels back in time she is beyond the reach of Pendergast’s protection.
Can she change her fate, and prevent the tragic deaths of her siblings?
She arrives in New York City in the late 1800’s with a plan to stop nefarious serial killer Dr Enoch Leng, but will she be able to outwit him?
Constance’s mission to save her family could end up being her last.
- The time travel element makes this book very exciting
- Pendergast doesn’t really feature in this book
It is best to read the Pendergast series in the order that it was published.
Whilst a lot of the stories can be enjoyed without reading the entire series, you might not have a full understanding of all of the characters and their interactions.
This is particularly relevant as the series progresses, and the supporting characters reappear and become more heavily involved in the plot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Pendergast series.
Do You Have To Read The Pendergast Books In Order?
Some of the Pendergast books can be enjoyed as standalone stories. However, it is best to read them in the order they were published as this will give you a better understanding of the history of the various different characters.
What Genre Is The Pendergast Series?
The Pendergast series comes under many genres including mystery, crime, and thriller. It is predominantly a detective series, as agent Pendergast has to solve various crimes and strange happenings.