Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child became my favorite authors when I started reading Relic, a horror / thriller set at the American Museum of Natural History. Douglas Preston worked at the Museum as a writer and editor from 1978 to 1985 and the rich detail around the museum's inner workings drew me in. There began a series of novels that would become centered around a very unusual protagonist, Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast.
Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, MA in 1956. He attended Pomona College and after exploring the sciences picked English literature as his area of study. After working at the museum for eight years, he wrote a non-fiction book, Dinosaurs in the Attic. It was that book that led to his introduction and later collobaration with Lincoln Child, the editor of his book at St. Louis. Martin's press. Their first book Relic, was made into a movie in 1997, and was the beginning of a successful series of ten additional novels, Cold Vengeance, their latest, was just released in August, 2011.
Lincoln Child, was born in Westport, CT, and attended Carleton College majoring in English. His first position after college was at St. Martin's Press, where he made full editor in 1984. He left publishing in 1987 to pursue a career with MetLife in computer programming and analysis, and in doing so began pursuing his writing on the side. After Relic was published in 1995 he began writing full-time.
Both authors experiences in college and professional careers can be felt in the detailed backgrounds they give both the characters and their stories. They have over the course of the series introduced concepts that are somewhat fantastic, a serum to prevent aging, or a drug that causes a metamorphosis, but have done so in a plausible way.
They have developed their characters over the series, many reappear in subsequent novels to where they were first introduced, and their continued growth and development is not ignored in favor of the main character. But it is that main character, Aloysius Pendergast, and his loyal friend, NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta, that keep me returning to their novels. Special Agent Pendergast is one of the most entertaining characters I have met in years. His background as a member of a wealthy, but strange, New Orleans family that includes charletons and serial killers, is an ever unfolding delight.
His methods are as eccentric as his family, and include a smattering of disguise, Tibetan meditation, Chongg Ran, pyschological manipulation, and pure brilliance. He is a charming enigma, whose story and background is uncovered slowly over the series. While he started out almost as super-hero like in his amazing abilities, it is in Preston and Childs' latest series, the Helen trilogy, you get to see the character as a man, who's loss of his wife ten years earlier, and his subsequent discovery of a cover up, causes cracks in that unflappable exterior.