It’s not a coincidence that the names Preston & Child have the ring of a crime-fighting duo—this pair of authors have been writing crime and suspense books together for almost thirty years! Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are the authors of the popular Pendergast series, a long-running police procedural starring the FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast. The first Pendergast book came out in 1995, and the twentieth, Bloodless, is coming out this summer.
If you’re looking for a new crime series to sink into, and you’re not sure where to start with Pendergast, this list will help you out. These novels are the highest-rated Pendergast books on Goodreads, and will give you a fantastic introduction to the world of Aloysius Pendergast. The series includes both standalone novels and mini-series, in which a longer plot arc unfolds over the course of several books. All the titles mentioned here are standalones unless otherwise specified.
A startling crime with dozens of victims. 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.
A ghastly enigma with no apparent solution. 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. An early pathology report only adds to the mystery. With an ocean of possibilities confronting the investigation, no one is sure what happened, why, or from where the feet originated. And they desperately need to know: are the victims still alive?
Douglas Preston; Lincoln Child
The past comes alive to haunt the present in The Cabinet of Curiosities, which begins with a disturbing discovery: an underground charnel house housing the bones of several murder victims. Further research reveals these remains to be the victims of an 1880s New York serial killer. When similar murders rock the city in the present, Pendergast, with the help of a journalist and an archeologist, must stop the new serial killer before he becomes their next victim.
After an overhaul of leadership at the FBI's New York field office, A. X. L. Pendergast is abruptly forced to accept an unthinkable condition of continued employment: the famously rogue agent must now work with a partner.
Pendergast and his new colleague, junior agent Coldmoon, are assigned to investigate a rash of killings in Miami Beach, where a bloodthirsty psychopath is cutting out the hearts of his victims and leaving them with cryptic handwritten letters at local gravestones. The graves are unconnected save in one bizarre way: all belong to women who committed suicide.
But the seeming lack of connection between the old suicides and the new murders is soon the least of Pendergast's worries. Because as he digs deeper, he realizes the brutal new crimes may be just the tip of the iceberg: a conspiracy of death that reaches back decades.
Douglas Preston; Lincoln Child
New York-based Pendergast travels to the middle of the country in Still Life With Crows, a chilling story set in small-town Kansas. Pendergast arrives in a small Kansas town to find the community devastated by a string of murders. At first, it appears to be the work of a serial killer, but as Pendergast investigates, he starts to suspect the darker, older forces may be at work. Among the placid fields of golden corn, no one is safe—especially not Pendergast himself.
Dance of Death opens with Pendergast on the brink of death, after having been surrounded by armed men at the end of Brimstone. He leaves behind a letter for his NYPD colleague, asking him to take over the work of tracking down Pendergast's younger brother Diogenes, a reckless genius determined to commit a deadly crime in less than a week's time...
New in Pendergast Series
Bloodless finds Pendergast in Savanah, GA, where something strange is happening: bodies keep turning up drained of blood. As Pendergast tries to unravel this upsetting series of murders, he begins to see links between the victims and an infamous plane hijacking that took place fifty years earlier. It's a truly bizarre case, but Pendergast is always up for a challenge—even if he has to put himself in danger to uncover the truth.
What to Read Next