Relic (Pendergast #1) Review

Relic (Pendergast #1) is a 1995 science fiction horror thriller novel written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and published by Tor Books.  As the first installment in the Agent Pendergast Series, the plot follows NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, and graduate student Dr. Margo Green who hunt a mythical creature that is killing people in a New York City’s American Museum of Natural History.


Positives:

  • Fantastic main characters
  • Mbwun is freakin’ awesome
  • Great atmosphere
  • Well-written story
  • Great dialogue
  • Intense, brutal scenes
  • Great pacing
  • Very educational read

Negatives:

  • n/a

Plot:  The mutilated corpses of two kids turn up in New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta is sent to investigate the case with the help of department head Dr. Frock and his assistant Dr. Margo Green.  However, when another body turns up the group are assisted by Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast.  With the upcoming exhibition and the museum’s reputation on the line, the museum’s leaders do everything they can to put a lid on the situation.  However, as the investigation progresses D’Agosta, Pendergast, and Green discover that the killer isn’t human, but a beast that’s as smart as it is brutal. Relic is a perfect example of a page turning thriller, one filled with mystery, suspense, and horror.  A great aspect to the story is that the main players are only hindered by the creature, but by other humans.  There is so much going on aside from the investigation that actually helps flesh out the story. The climax gets crazy and ending has a surprising twist that I did find satisfying yet a good cliff hanger.  (4 out of 5)

Characters: Loved the main and supporting cast.  Margo Green, Vincent D’Agosta, and Aloysius Pendergast are the main protagonist and are the dream team of the story.  Green is smart and doesn’t feel overly masculine nor pushy.  She’s likable and didn’t feel like she was compensating for not being a man.  D’Agosta is pretty awesome, he’s smart, he’s serious.  A good contrast to Pendergast, who is just freakin’ awesome.  The guy is talented, he’s smart, he’s charismatic.  Loved that eccentric quality to his character and it definitely drew me to him.  The three characters have a really good dynamic that grows.  There are other great characters such as department head Dr. Frock, journalist William Smithback, curator Winston Wright, deputy head Ian Cuthbert, and public relations director Lavinia Rickman.  Along with the characters, the mbwun creature itself is interesting and the story’s main antagonist.  Strong, smart, and capable this creature is pretty damn scary.  It’s most pronounced feature is that the creature is revealed to be a sympathetic character itself.  It isn’t killing people to be just evil.  This creature is just trying to survive. (5 out of 5)

Writing:  Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child do a phenomenal job with the writing.  I love it when writers can have such a large monstrous element in the story but actually have the story and characters pretty damn interesting too.  The presentation of the museum made it just as important as the characters.  Another thing that can be appreciated about the writing is that it provided information about history, science, and myth without feeling burdensome nor boring.  It actually helped give the story substance. Liked the details about the inner workings of the museum as well as police work.  Has great atmosphere and at times it’s dark, even suspenseful and claustrophobic.  There are a lot of great scares.  Imagine being in a large creepy museum at night.  There are some really intense scenes that are highly descriptive.  People getting holes punched in their faces or heads getting ripped off.  It’s very violent and very gross.  Really dug the dialogue because it feels realistic.  And for those who like the science fiction element there is the idea of genetic manipulation, which was presented really well. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Relic (Pendergast #1) is an awesome read and one of the best horror science fiction horror thrillers in my book.  Though some would consider the pacing a bit slow I appreciated the world-building and the established characters.  It does feature an awesome cast of characters (especially Aloysius Pendergast), a well-written story, informative content, great dialogue, great scares, great atmosphere, and an awesome well thought antagonistic force.  Relic (Pendergast #1) gets 5 out of 5.

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