Pendergast – Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast – has skin as pale as moonlight, is always impeccably dressed (in black) and is independently wealthy. He has a knack for turning up (uninvited) at the scene of very strange murders and discovering the truth while surrounded (mostly) by self-serving know-nothings. This is because he knows everything.
He’s a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, a man who always has the right piece of information at his fingertips for precisely the right moment. Pendergast can quote obscure research on cross-pollination in Nebraska, discuss New York regulations for archaeological finds, tell you what a cabinet of curiosities is and identify the markings on a murder weapon at a glance.
Like Sherlock Holmes, Pendergast couldn’t possibly exist. But he is fun to read about. You turn the pages waiting for him to pull the next rabbit out of the hat of his impossibly arcane knowledge. The only trouble is, he doesn’t do this all the time. Both books begin with an investigation, then slip into fairly straight thrills and spills chases. And those are exciting enough, but they’re not Pendergast being weirdly brilliant.
Not that any of that’s going to stop me looking out for the rest of his adventures. He’s just too entertaining a character.