Dr. Aloysius Xingú Leng Pendergast is a Special Agent with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is assigned to the New Orleans office of the FBI, but frequently travels the world investigating serial killings of a supernatural bent.
Pendergast was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Linnaeus and Isabella Pendergast. He was raised in the Pendergast family's Maison de la Rochenoire on Dauphine Street with his brother Diogenes, often spending summers at the family estates of Penumbra Plantation and Ravenscry.
He studied Anthropology at Harvard University (graduating summa cum laude) and received dual doctorates in Classics and Philosophy from Balliol College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, although he prefers the title "Special Agent" to that of "Doctor."
Pendergast has a highly classified military background, including a special forces stint in which he earned several medals for bravery under fire and high-value covert actions.
His interests encompass a wide variety of vastly differing walks of life, mostly focusing on the enlightenment of the human mind, body, and soul. He spent a year in Tibet with the monks of the Gsalrig Chongg monastery, studying the deep meditative art of Chongg Ran, which he subsequently developed into a particularly advanced technique called a memory crossing. The technique enables him to reconstruct a scene in his mind with such clarity that he can experience it in four dimensions, listening to conversations and making connections that would not be obvious from reading or looking at photographs.
Pendergast is a widower. He met Helen Esterhazy after meeting her at an event at the Audubon Museum in New Orleans, and they were married within two years. She was presumed killed after just two years of marriage by a man-eating lion while they were on safari in Africa.
Shortly after the Africa incident, Pendergast accepted an offer from his friend Mike Decker and joined the New Orleans field office of the FBI.
Appearance and Mannerisms Edit
Pendergast is described as tall and slender, though it is revealed that he is fit, graceful in movement and physically powerful despite his slight frame. His coloring is pale enough that many people refer to him as "corpse-like" or jokingly as "albino". He has platinum blond hair and pale, silvery gray-ice-blue eyes.
Pendergast religiously dresses in black Hardy Amies suits hand-tailored from a special blend of wool not made since the 1950s, paired with handmade Charvet or Jay Kos ties; he is consequently described by many characters as looking like a "fashionable undertaker." He has a strong Deep South accent and his voice is described as low and mellifluous. Vincent D'Agosta's initial impression was that Pendergast looked like Andy Warhol.
He is generally described as being stoically aloof and eccentric, though his ineffable politeness and unerring intellect imbue him with an irresistible charm or enigmatic sense of danger if the occasion should call for it. Well-learned in many subjects, he converses easily with doctors, scientists, intellectuals, vagabonds, highly specialized masters of specific disciplines, and people of a wide variety of language and culture alike. He is a master of psychological manipulation, disguise, and improvisation, and a polyglot, demonstrating mastery of French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Portuguese and Cantonese; he is also semi-fluent in Mandarin and has some knowledge of Japanese.
His weapons of choice are several custom 1911 handguns, including Les Baer and Wilson Combat models. He has also used a Colt Anaconda .45 revolver in Relic, and an experimental Anschluss GmbH 9mm in Reliquary. His collection also boasts a Wilson Combat Tactical Supergrade Compact .45 and a Signature Grade Colt 1911 .45ACP tuned by pistolsmith Hilton Yam. He is exceptionally skilled in close quarters combat as well.
Pendergast maintains an apartment at The Dakota in New York City, and later inherits an internally renovated Beaux Arts mansion near Harlem from his great-granduncle in The Cabinet of Curiosities.
Though he is a scrupulously scientific man, he wears a sort of talisman or amulet on a chain, that consists of his own modified version of the Pendergast family crest: a lidless eye over two moons, one new and one full, with a phoenix rising (the original featured a lion couchant).
Pendergast carries a variety of hidden tools, such as lock picks, flashlights of various sizes, test tubes, syringes, and forensic chemicals.
In Relic, Pendergast worked closely with Lt. Vincent D'Agosta on the Museum Beast Murders case. Pendergast remained in contact with D'Agosta after the case and the two became close friends. D'Agosta frequently assists Pendergast at the expense of his own career, to the perennial annoyance of his girlfriend and later fiancée, Laura Hayward.
Pendergast collaborates less often with Hayward, who is herself an NYPD homicide detective.
In Still Life with Crows, Pendergast met Kansas teenager Corrie Swanson. She acted as his assistant, and in return for her service he sent her to Philips-Exeter Academy to finish high school. Upon graduation, Corrie enrolled at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and she and Pendergast remained friends, with Pendergast acting as Corrie's mentor.After inheriting his great-great-uncle Enoch Leng's mansion following The Cabinet of Curiosities, Pendergast discovered a young girl living in the house. The girl, Constance Greene, had been adopted by Pendergast's uncle and used as a test subject for various life-extending compounds. As a result, she barely aged for over 100 years until Leng's death. Pendergast adopted Greene as his ward. She often helps him with research, as her long life has given her time to read extensively and become fluent in many languages. Pendergast had a troubled relationship with his younger brother Diogenes. Diogenes is as brilliant as his older brother, but following a childhood accident that left him with brain damage and heterochromia, he took up a life of crime. He reemerged in Brimstone and began a killing spree that ended with him framing his brother for murder. Pendergast and Diogenes's struggle continued through Dance of Death and The Book of the Dead (the "Diogenes Triology") and ended when Diogenes fell into a volcano in Sicily. Pendergast was married to a woman named Helen prior to the events of Relic, but she was killed in a hunting accident in Africa. In the "Helen Trilogy" (Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, and Two Graves) Pendergast learned that her death was not an accident and followed a trail that eventually leads him to Helen, who was alive and in hiding. He was reunited with her briefly before she died. Pendergast later found out that he and Helen had twin boys, Alban and Tristram (Two Graves).