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Pendergast Books in Order: How to read Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child series?

Last Updated 10 months ago.

Do you know somebody called Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast?

What is the Pendergast series?

Written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, The Pendergast is about Aloysius Pendergast. He is a special agent with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and works out of the New Orleans branch.

Pendergast is a tall and eccentric man, but he is also highly intelligent and knowledgeable, a master of psychological manipulation, disguise, and improvisation. In his work, he investigates cases which interest him, especially the ones appearing to be the work of serial killers.

Pendergast Books in Order:

Pendergast appeared in several stand-alone novels and stars in two trilogies. Also, in the first two books, he was not the main protagonist of his series.

  1. Relic – Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human…
  2. Reliquary – Hidden deep beneath Manhattan lies a warren of tunnels, sewers, and galleries, mostly forgotten by those who walk the streets above. When two grotesquely deformed skeletons are found deep in the mud off the Manhattan shoreline, museum curator Margo Green is called in to aid the investigation.
  3. The Cabinet of Curiosities – In an ancient tunnel underneath New York City a charnel house is discovered. Inside are thirty-six bodies – all murdered and mutilated more than a century ago. While FBI agent Pendergast investigates the old crimes, identical killings start to terrorize the city.
    The nightmare has begun. Again.
  4. Still Life with Crows – A small Kansas town has turned into a killing ground. Is it a serial killer, a man with the need to destroy? Or is it a darker force, a curse upon the land? Amid golden cornfields, FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers evil in the blood of America’s heartland. No one is safe.

The Diogenes trilogy

The next three books need to be read in order.

  1. Brimstone – A body is found in the attic of a fabulous Long Island estate. There is a claw print scorched into the wall, and the stench of sulfur chokes the air. When FBI Special Agent Pendergast investigates the gruesome crime, he discovers that thirty years ago four men conjured something unspeakable.
  2. Dance of Death – Two brothers. One a top FBI agent. The other a brilliant, twisted criminal. An undying hatred between them. Now, a perfect crime. And the ultimate challenge: Stop me if you can…
  3. The Book of the Dead – An FBI agent, rotting away in a high-security prison for a murder he did not commit. His brilliant, psychotic brother, about to perpetrate a horrific crime. A young woman with an extrodinary past, on th edge of a violent breakdown. An ancient Egyptian tomb with an enigmatic curse, about to be unveiled at a celebrity-studded New York gala… Memento Mori.

  1. The Wheel of Darkness – A luxury ocean liner on its maiden voyage across the North Atlantic, awash in wealth and decadence. An ancient Tibetan box, its contents unknown, sealed with a terrifying warning. An FBI agent destined to confront what he fears most – himself…
  2. Cemetery Dance – William Smithback, a reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment. Eyewitnesses claim that the assailant was their strange, sinister neighbor – a man who was already dead and buried weeks earlier. While Captain Laura Hayward leads the official investigation, Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta undertake their own private quest for the truth.

The Helen trilogy

The next three books need to be read in order.

  1. Fever Dream – Yesterday, Special Agent Pendergast still mourned the loss of his beloved wife, Helen, who died in a tragic accident in Africa twelve years ago. Today, he discovers she was murdered. Tomorrow, he will learn her most guarded secrets, leaving him to wonder: Who was the woman I married? Why was she murdered? And, above all… Who murdered her?
  2. Cold Vengeance – 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, 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.
  3. Two Graves – When a string of bizarre murders erupts across several Manhattan hotels-perpetrated by a boy who seems to have an almost psychic ability to elude capture-NYPD Lieutenant D’Agosta asks his friend Pendergast for help. Reluctant at first, Pendergast soon discovers that the killings are a message from his wife’s kidnappers. But why a message? And what does it mean?

  1. Extraction (Short Story) – Pendergast tells the story of how Diogenes and he encountered a local urban legend as children, a man acting as the Tooth Fairy.
  2. White Fire – In 1876, in a mining camp called Roaring Fork in the Colorado Rockies, eleven miners were killed by a rogue grizzly bear. Today, Corrie Swanson has arranged to examine the miners’ remains. When she makes a shocking discovery, town leaders try to stop her from exposing their community’s dark and bloody past. Just as Special Agent Pendergast arrives to rescue his protege, the town comes under siege by a murderous arsonist.
  3. Blue Labyrinth – A long-buried family secret has come back to haunt Pendergast. It begins with murder. One of Pendergast’s most implacable, most feared enemies is found on his doorstep, dead. Pendergast has no idea who is responsible for the killing, or why the body was brought to his home. The mystery has all the hallmarks of the perfect crime, save for an enigmatic clue: a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach of the deceased.
  4. Gaslighted: Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy vs. Aloysius Pendergast (Short Story) – 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?
  5. Crimson Shore – Pendergast, together with his ward Constance Greene, travels to the quaint seaside village of Exmouth, Massachusetts, to investigate the theft of a priceless wine collection. But inside the wine cellar, they find something considerably more disturbing: a bricked-up niche that once held a crumbling skeleton. Pendergast and Constance soon learn that Exmouth is a town with a very dark and troubled history.

  1. The Obsidian Chamber – After a harrowing, otherworldly confrontation on the shores of Exmouth, Massachusetts, Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast is missing, presumed dead. Sick with grief, Pendergast’s ward, Constance, retreats to her chambers beneath the family mansion at 891 Riverside Drive – only to be taken captive by a shadowy figure from the past. Proctor, Pendergast’s longtime bodyguard, springs to action, chasing Constance’s kidnapper through cities, across oceans, and into wastelands unknown.
  2. City of Endless Night – When Grace Ozmian, the daughter of a wealthy tech billionaire, first goes missing, the NYPD assumes she has simply sped off on another wild adventure. Until the young woman’s body is discovered in an abandoned warehouse in Queens, the head nowhere to be found. Lieutenant CD’Agosta quickly takes the lead. He knows his investigation will attract fierce scrutiny, so D’Agosta is delighted when Pendergast shows up at the crime scene assigned to the case.
  3. Verses for the Dead – After an overhaul of leadership at the FBI, Pendergast is forced to work with a partner.With junior agent Coldmoon, they are assigned to Miami Beach, where a rash of killings by a bloodthirsty psychopath are distinguished by a confounding M.O.: cutting out the hearts of his victims and leaving them-along with cryptic handwritten letters.

  1. Crooked River – Appearing out of nowhere to horrify the quiet resort town of Sanibel Island, Florida, dozens of identical, ordinary-looking shoes float in on the tide and are washed up on the tropical beach-each one with a crudely severed human foot inside. Called away from vacation elsewhere in the state, Agent Pendergast reluctantly agrees to visit the crime scene-and, despite himself, is quickly drawn in by the incomprehensible puzzle.


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  1. Jim

    I read the books in the following order:
    -Cabinet Of Curiosities, Still Life With Crows, Relic, Reliquary. From that point on, I read them in order, starting with the DIogenes Trilogy. I found it the perfect way to introduce someone to this series. The first two books, in which Pendergast is not the main character, are a little tougher to get through than the rest. Get hooked on him in the CoC and SLWC, then fill in the gaps on certain characters by going to the beginning. Then you are ready for the first trilogy, which is amazing.

  2. Steve King

    I stumbled on this series just by accident. I am so glad I did. Started out with one of the novels in the middle somewhere and quickly found out that I needed to put it down and start from the beginning. What a treat! Started with RELIC and have graduated to the latest, CITY OF ENDLESS NIGHT. The Pendergast character is one of the best kept secrets in the series. Even when he is not in the story you might be reading or not in the part of the book you are reading, he continues to dominate the mind and makes one want him back in the “picture” as quickly as possible. The list of characters is unbelievable and when a new one is introduced they must meet a certain list of “qualities” to stay relevant…..they almost always do and one might find oneself starting to read faster to get to a part that a favorite character is in. Thank you for keeping me entertained all these years. I always recommend this series to friends in need of a good read….and I always start with RELIC! It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t now wouldn’t it!?!?!

  3. Warren

    I just finished the last of the 19 books including the short stories which I could only get from an audible source. I guess you could say I’m a huge Pendergast fan or maybe more of a Preston & Child fan. I checked out the books one at a time from the public library. Funny thing is that I had already read about half the books over the past 6 or 7 years. I didn’t remember them until certain events returned to my memory. I have thoroughly enjoyed going through the books in order. No matter the problem, you feel everything will be alright when Pendergast is present. I recommend these books for anyone with a mystery inclination or who just enjoy well written books that keep your constant attention.

  4. Darlene

    I thoroughly enjoy Scott Brick’s rendition of Pendergast. He moves in and out of characters with ease and you can tell when Pendergast comes onto the stage.

  5. Donna

    Just finishing with the complete series but, I have to admit, I didn’t start from Relic. I picked up an audio book on sale that looked interesting for the next road trip with my mother. I wasn’t sure if we would like it, but the jacket sounded good. WELL….. The book was Crimson Shore. I thoroughly enjoyed it every second I had to listen and was so ticked off at the end that I was swearing and saying, “No way does it end this way.” Well as soon as I got home I looked up the book praying that there was a sequel and, Thank GOD, there was. So I read the Obsidian Chamber and was so much happier. Not many writers can make me feel like this so I decided to look in my library to see if I could start at Relic. Not a book to be had, but they had the movie. So, I watched the movie, then moved on to Reliquary. I was hooked. I paid to read the first short story “Extraction” and now will pay again to read “Gaslighted” which will end the Pendergast series for me. Even though I didn’t start out with number 1 I am so glad that I bought Crimson Shore on audio. A big thank you to the authors on a job well done. I will my eye open for any future Pendergast novel.

  6. Pat Kingsmill

    Is there a book containing the story of Constance Green? I have read hints of her age and such, but the story of how she became a ward of the Pendergast Family has not been answered. or how she can look so young but be of older age. I may have missed these answers, and would like to be put on the right track.

    • Constance

      Constance was discovered hiding in the bowels of Enoch Leng’s abandoned mansion, which Pendergast now owns. Enoch was Pendergast’s great grand uncle, a deranged scientist who used her in his experiments to prolong life 130 years earlier.
      She is first hinted at in Cabinet of Curisoties.

    • Magdalena Sulowska

      More info about Contance Green and how she managed to stay so young – looking is in The Obsidian Chamber .

    • Stephanie

      The story you are looking for is in the book Two Graves. It’s the last book in the Helen trilogy. I just finished that book. The Helen trilogy is a story arc you wouldn’t want to miss. I always hate it when a Pendergast book ends.

      • Cheryl Childs

        Me too. ?
        I love living in Pendergast’s milieu for some reason! Mysterious, wise Constance. Aloysius- deeply knowledgeable about simply Everything?!?!
        I want to know more about the authors; their journeys; their experiences & education!

  7. PAUL G


    • Lethe

      Aloysius Pendergast is the alter ego of none other than…Buckeroo Banzai.

  8. Ellen Jefferies

    This has got to be the (one of the?) biggest “to be continued” serials ever written. Reading them is compulsive AND some of them have no good place to put it down and go to bed at a reasonable hour so you stay up reading all night

  9. Sandy

    What is the age of AXL Pendergast, or is it known ? Thank you for your wonderful books, I have been in chemotherapy for a year next month and they are the thing that sustains me thru each treatment ! I have almost run out of new titles and have begun reading the old ones all over again ! I find something new in each story as I reread it ! Thank you again ! Sandy

  10. Loretta

    I started with Cabinet of Curiosities and was hooked. I have now purchases all but the 2 short stories and will begin reading them all again….in order this time! Love this series and these 2 authors!!!

  11. Joanna Stump

    My mother actually turned me onto this series years ago. She is always reading the latest crime drama whereas I’m more into historical romances or Sci-Fi. I guess she thought I needed a change. I’m glad she did! She would buy and read the newest Pendergast book then pass it to me. I could barely wait for her to be done – I was hooked! Pendergast has the drama, Sci-Fi, and a touch of underlying James Bond steaminess. Ironically, I just asked her a few days ago if there was a new Pendergast novel. Low and behold, tonight I was on my phone and the ad for “Verses for the Dead” flashed on the screen. Maybe I’ll buy this one and read it first!

  12. rick lotz

    where do the following books fit in if at all ice limit, mt. dragon, thunderhead, and riptide

    • Molly

      These books are part of a different series known as the Gideon series (excuse me if I spelt that wrong) and as far as I am aware do not fit in with the Pendergast series

      • Chris

        Actually, they do. They’re part of the same universe. Some of the characters crossover.

  13. Ann Hedberg

    I absolutely lucked into finding the Preston & Child books. The Pendergast series is my favourite but I also thoroughly enjoy Gideon Crew and many others.
    I believe that I have read all the Pendergast books, although not in order. I don’t know if I have missed something but I have been looking for something more on Constance Greene. The Cabinet of Curiousities hints at her existence below the house. The next reference I have found is her introduction as Pendergast’s ward. Have I missed something?

  14. Nicole

    I broke my ankle in February and my dear sister-in-law showed up with a bag full of all the Pendergast novels she owns. Started with “Relic”, partly because of the review on the cover proclaiming it to be “far above Jurassic Park”. While I enjoy both books equally, I was hooked by “Relic” and was eager for more. Texted my sister-in-law and told her Pendergast was my favorite character. I was delighted when I got to “Cabinet of Curiosities” and found he had the lead role. He seems like he would be an awesome, fascinating, energetic, if somewhat maddening, friend. Hope he graces Preston’s and Child’s books for many years to come!

  15. Tom Baker

    I agree with the order above except for one small detail… I think Thunderhead should be read between Reliquary and The Cabinet of Curiosities as it introduces Nora Kelly and her budding relationship with Bill Smithback, which then continues in “Cabinet”.
    Also, as I haven’t read the short stories yet, where do they fit in the timeline.

  16. Michele Myankazt

    I love the Pendergast stories. I just happened to come across one of these books in the audiobooks for sale at my local library and I am definitely glad that I bought it. I am hooked, if I can’t get a book on audiobooks I am definitely going to buy all of them and read them in order. I have not found a character that interested me so much since Sherlock Holmes. Please keep this series going.

  17. Nancy havens

    I cant get enough. The characters are wild and each has a life and story of their own. I wait with bates breath for the next installment. I must say I came upon the series rather by accident and how fortuitous for me. Love all of them

  18. Jenna McCoy

    I’m almost finished and just noticed that the next book doesn’t come out until December! I’ve read them all in the order noted here, and I think it’s perfect. I can’t imagine a world without Pendergast!

  19. Donna Powell

    I am ruined ! The Pendergast novels are so mesmerizing that other characters/authors no longer hold my interest. It’s like drinking wine…you can be happy with a nice bottle of $20 wine UNTIL you’ve enjoyed your first bottle of $100 wine…then $20 bottles of wine don’t taste very appealing anymore.

  20. John B

    I read Cabinet of Curiosities first and thought it was one of the best books I ever read. Still do.

    Read Relic and then Reliquary next and there was no continuity problem. Both great.

    The other books are somewhat more uneven in quality (although all good) with Cemetery Dance being the best of the rest.

  21. Cinzia zacche

    I’m a fan of Aloysius Pendergast from Cabinet of curiosity, wich i read before Relic a lot of year ago. Cabinet is for me the best of the saga, and here we can see the first hints of Constance Greene, in my opinion the best character after Pendergast. She become his Word in Brimstone, and book after book, we can see her character trasforming in something more and more important for the protagonist. Though some readers dont’ like her, i ‘ m sure she is the only perfect woman for our strange Agent.

  22. Ilene Campas

    Let’s hope Pendergast lives forever. I listen on Audible, sorry to hear reader has passed – he was the best – and sometimes listen all day as I can’t wait to hear what is going to happen next.

    I’m relistening to many. Ilene 2020

  23. Charon

    I worked for Douglas Preston at his home in Round Pond, ME. At that time I had just begun to read his books, not knowing that he was the author. When I realized who he was, I told him all the books that I had read and he gave me an advanced signed copy. This was about 10 years ago

  24. Carl Barr

    Like many of you it seems, I am a long time fan of A X L Pendergast. Can’t recall now when I started with the series, but was trying to find an author(s) comparable to my all time favorite, P D James. I loved the intricacies that James could create which made everything “real”. Well, boy did I find that in the Preston and Childs books. Had, however put them aside for a bit and them rediscovered in Blue Labyrinth. After then reading the order of “read” suggested above, I began again, in part because I don’t recall reading Relic or Reliquary? I have many of the others in hardback, but strange, I don’t recall much about them. Suffice to say that I’ve purchased a 1st Edition Relic with authors signatures for my collection, so have become “serious”. Presently now on Cemetery Dance, but have read a few past this

  25. Janet

    I too, like many here, started with Cabinet of Curiosities and quickly became hooked. I then proceeded in order. I’ve yet to read Crooked River but plan to soon. I have read and reread these books and recommended to friends. Pendergast is my favorite fictional character. The only negative comment I can make concerning the authors is they cannot seem to write novels fast enough!

  26. Karen Steele

    I stumbled upon Brimstone a few years back … what can I say, since then I’ve read and acquired every book in the series on Pendergast – and many more of Preston Child books both from one author or the other. Love the writing of both these author’s – I’m done reading I need something else … when’s SmithBack’s next installment coming (book)

  27. evelyn smith

    I happened to pick up “Fever Dream” at a garage sale . I enjoyed it so much and then realized there were more. I found 2 more soon after and then had my son put as many as he could find on my e reader . I then read the other two in the Helen Trilogy and enjoyed them very much. Just recently I found a lot more at a garage sale and bought them. I have now found your website and made a list of the order to read them. I have them all but Brimstone, The two short stories and the latest one “Crooked River” I just read Relic and Reliquary and am going to read the rest in order, even the ones I have already read.I hope you keep writing more.

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