Thursday, July 17, 2014

Special Agent Pendergast Series by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

My good friend Ellen is due the credit for turning me on to this fabulous writing duo and boy am I grateful she did!  Even though she had read most of the books in the series already, she suggested I start with The Cabinet of Curiosities since it could be read as a stand alone book without having to have any previous knowledge of the characters, plots, etc., and she knew I would probably like it a lot.
Personally, I think it was a devious plot on her part to get me hooked  on the series - so what better way to get me wanting more than to introduce me to the best book of the entire series first?  LOL  It was devilish of you Ellen, quite devilish!  *smile* worked like a charm!

This roller coaster ride of a book begins with the breaking of ground on a new high rise apartment complex, in New York City (I know - it must be fiction if that's the case!).  A tunnel is discovered under the construction site, and when investigated, a charnel full of the remains of 36 people from over 100 years ago is discovered.  As the investigation into these century-old crimes ramps up, an eerily similar set of murders start happening in the present day.  And that is all I'm going to say about it because you have to read it for yourself....

The book is fabulous!  There were times while reading that I was so on-the-edge-of-my-seat-into-it that if someone had come up to me and said anything, I would have jumped three feet in the air.  So suspenseful and well written.  In fact, I put it in my top 5 list of all-time favorite books...yes, it is JUST THAT GOOD!

For reference, here is a list of all the Special Agent Pendergast novels, in chronological order, with each "sub series" highlighted where multiple books follow the same plot line and should be read in order chronologically to make the most sense.

  • Relic (1995)
  • Reliquary (1997)
  • The Cabinet of Curiosities (2002)
  • Still Life with Crows (2003)
  • Brimstone (2004)
  • The Dance of Death (2006)
  • The Book of the Dead (2006)
  • The Wheel of Darkness (2007)
  • Cemetary Dance (2009)
  • Fever Dream (2010)
  • Cold Vengence (2011)
  • Two Graves (2012)
  • White Fire (2013)
As you can see, Cabinet is actually the 3rd book chronologically in this series of books by Preston & Child revolving around a very extraordinary and peculiar FBI agent named Alloysius X. Pendergast.  Like I mentioned above, Cabinet is a stand-alone book plot wise.  It has a few of the same characters from the first two books, but you can start with this one if you want, like I did, or you can do it in order.  After reading a few books in the series, you will come to realize that he is unlike any other character you've read in a suspense thriller series.  If you're anything like me, which you probably are since you read this blog *smile*, you will be hooked on this incredibly talented writing team after only one book.  Once I finished Cabinet of Curiosities, I couldn't get my hands on another one in the series fast enough.  You will be tripping over your own feet to get out of your front door fast enough to get to the bookstore or library in order to get the next book.  I'm not kidding - it's happened!  ;)

It was at this point that I decided to go back and start the series from the beginning so I could see how Special Agent Pendergast was initially introduced.  The very first book featuring Pendergast is Relic, a very engrossing thriller set mostly in New York City's Museum of Natural History where several brutal murders have taken place.
The pace on this book is quick, and I have to admit there were many nights when Randy would say to me, "Hon, it's late and you have work tomorrow.  Don't you think you should go to bed?" to which I would respond, "I know, but please JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER!!!" LOL  It was an awesome book as well and comes close to tying with Cabinet as my favorite Pendergast novel.

Reliquary is the 2nd book in the series, and it builds on the same plot line as Relic so it should be read in chronological order to make the most sense.  I struggled with this one a bit in the beginning and towards the middle, but just over halfway through it picked up speed and I enjoyed the rest of the book, but certainly not quite as much as Relic or Cabinet.  Chronologically, after Reliquary is Still Life With Crows which also has a stand alone plot line.  This one was good too and introduces a new character, Corrie Swanson, who will make appearances in several subsequent books. The next three books, starting with Brimstone, follow a central story line involving Pendergast's diabolical brother, Diogenes.  The Dance of Death and The Book of the Dead round out the Diogenes Trilogy.  All three were good, but they still don't surpass Cabinet or Relic in my opinion.

Preston & Child penned another stand alone Pendergast novel entitled Cemetary Dance which incorporated several other main characters from previous novels.  It was a good read and holds a special place in my heart as it is my first and only signed, hardcopy book ever. Thank you, guys!  :)

The most recent sub-series in the Pendergast library is one which finally addresses the story of his late wife's demise, a plot line that was conveniently never discussed in previous novels.  From the start, in Relic, you knew she was no longer alive, but there were no other details until Fever Dream.  This and Cold Vengence, the second book in what is known as The Helen Trilogy, were average in my opinion.  They held my interest just enough to want to finish them, but they don't hold a candle to some of the others. The final book in the Helen TrilogyTwo Graves, was the best of the three books. There was a lot of intense action and a few surprises along the way that made it a very entertaining read.  Honestly though, I think part of what made this book so good for me is that I knew this particular plot line was coming to an end!  LOL

White Fire is their latest Pendergast release, another stand alone, and brings back an old friend, Corrie Swanson, from Still Life With Crows.  It was a very fast and fun read.  I really enjoyed it - especially after the slight disappointment with the Helen Trilogy.

So now I await, with baited breath, for my next Pendergast fix.  It's a bad habit, but one I find hard to break.  ;)


  1. HA! I knew perfectly well that telling you to read Cabinet of Curiosities would hook you for life! I am just horrible like that. ;-)
    However, I will confess to having read the Pendergast books more than once. He is a great character. I'll admit, however, I wasn't that keen on the last one with Corrie Swenson. Mainly because she acted like such a complete idiot half the time. Totally out of the character IMHO. That said, I am still eagerly awaiting the next Pendergast book!

    1. LOL Ellen! Yeah, she definitely acted pretty stupid at times. I don't know...I've never really thought of her as "brilliant" to begin with so for me at least, it didn't seem so far out of character. I heard the next one "blue labyrinth" is supposed to be out in November, I think it was.

    2. Corrie means well, but she is still extremely impulsive and emotionally driven. Which is not surprising given the hardness of her childhood.

  2. I'm going to put this on my Kindle today since I need something new... I'll let you know what I think!