by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

(extraordinary; top 10% of SciThri)

Year published: 1995
Category: science thriller; series (#1)

Tech rating (out of 5):

SUMMARY {from the back cover}:

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate the killer cannot be human, but the museum’s directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders. Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who—or what—is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?


Relic is brilliant. You like action? You get action—lots of it. You like creepy settings? You get an exhibit called “Superstition” at the American Museum of Natural History and water-filled bone-strewn tunnels under the streets of New York. Toss in some Amazon jungle, a priceless artifact, a mysterious death in Brazil, an obnoxious kid who’s asking for what he gets, a nosy journalist, a sensible hardboiled NY cop, a noble wheelchair-ridden genius, foolish museum officials blinded by self-interest, a slaughtered dog, an imminent gala you’re glad you’re not invited to, and the mayor of New York fleeing a gruesome devil monster: that’s Relic. Whew.

What else? How about a computer malfunction that turns all the security measures against the people they’re supposed to protect; DNA sequencing, evolutionary theory, and hypothalamic hormones; a human stampede; and a reptilian claw. Clearly I’m not giving you a plot summary. I’m convincing you that this book has it all and you should read it.

Relic introduces a character who has enough staying power to survive ten books (and counting): FBI Special Agent Pendergast, a quirky, mysterious, strangely brilliant and cultured maverick from New Orleans, who always manages to stay one step ahead of everyone else.

An incredibly fun read with superb pacing. My only complaint was the very last chapter, “six months later,” which I thought was kind of random and bizarre. But I haven’t read the sequel yet…

You’ll love this book if you’re a fan of: thrillers; author James Rollins; Indiana Jones; Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park

Preston & Child’s FBI Agent Pendergast series:
Relic (1995); Reliquary (1998); The Cabinet of Curiosities (2003); Still Life with Crows (2004); Brimstone (2004); Dance of Death (2005); The Book of the Dead (2007); The Wheel of Darkness (2008); Cemetery Dance (2009); Fever Dream (2010)