Relic (novel)

From Academic Kids

Relic is a 1995 novel by Douglas J. Preston and Lincoln Child. Thoroughly researched and eerily believable, Relic was hailed by critics and was a New York Times Bestseller. As a techno-thriller, it chilling comments on the possibilities inherent in genetic manipulation, while also taking shots at museums and their role both in society and in the scientific community.



Set in and around New York City's American Museum of Natural History, Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta must solve a string of brutal murders that take place inside the museum during the days preceding the opening of "Superstition", a spectacular blockbuster exhibition.

D'Agosta is aided by a number of people during his investigation including:

  • Margo Green, a graduate student,
  • Dr. Frock, her advisor,
  • William Smithback, Jr., an ambitious journalist who is writing a book about the exhibition for the museum, and
  • Dr. Aloysius X. L. Pendergast, a secretive and highly resourceful FBI Special Agent.

Evidence begins to point suspiciously to a doomed expedition undertaken by the museum several years earlier to the Brazilian rainforest in search of the Kothoga tribe. It begins to appear that the cause of the murders is Mbwun, the Kathoga's crazed lizard god— a relic depicting him is to be shown for the first time at the upcoming exhibition.

It also appears that several museum leaders had known about previous murders on the museum's premises, and that they had conspired to keep these murders kept secret so as not to damage the reputation of the museum.

Can the murders be stopped? Can disaster be averted at the grand opening of the exhibition? Will anyone face the truth before it is too late?

Sequel novel

Relic was followed by the bestselling sequel, Reliquary in 1998.

The seminal Pendergast, who is introduced in Relic, also appears in several of Preston's and Lincoln's following novels, along with Smithback and D' Agosta.

Preston-Child Pangea

All but one of the novels in Preston and Child's series of novels appear to be interconnected. The authors refer to their fictive world or universe as a "Pangea".

  1. Relic is the first Preston-Child novel. It introduces the characters Margo Green, Bill Smithback, Vincent D'Agosta, Dr. Frock, Special Agent Pendergast, and Gregory Kawakita, all of whom appear in one or more of Preston and Child's later novels.
  2. Mount Dragon introduces GeneDyne, a genetics technology corporation mentioned again in a later novel, and Mime, a character who helps Special Agent Pendergast in later novels. In addition, an distant ancestor of the character Susana Cabeza de Vaca is mentioned in Thunderhead, though this connection is fairly remote.
  3. Reliquary is a direct sequel to Relic. As such, much of the action takes place in the Museum from Relic and focuses on the Mbwun lily and its effects. Margo Green, Bill Smithback, Vincent D'Agosta, Dr. Frock, and Special Agent Pendergast return. Gregory Kawakita returns as well...sort of. The novel also introduces Laura Hayward and Bryce Harriman, who appear again in Brimstone. The character Simon Brambell is introduced; his brother appears in The Ice Limit.
  4. Riptide does not appear to tie into any other published Preston-Child novels. However, Kerry Wopner appeared in a Preston-Child collaboration called Hex, available at the official Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child website [1] (
  5. Thunderhead brings back Bill Smithback and introduces Nora Kelly, who appears in The Cabinet of Curiosities.
  6. The Ice Limit introduces Patrick Brambell, the brother of Simon Brambell from the novel Reliquary. Palmer Lloyd is mentioned again in the novel The Cabinet of Curiosities.
  7. The Cabinet of Curiosities brings back Bill Smithback, Special Agent Pendergast, Bryce Harriman, and Nora Kelly. Vincent D'Agosta and Margo Green are mentioned; Margo Green is said to have found employment at Genedyne, the corporation from Mount Dragon. The novel introduces a character known only as Wren, who is mentioned again in later novels. Leng's mansion is mentioned in later novels as well. Several of Pendergast's relatives are mentioned in this novel; some of them have roles in later novels.
  8. Still Life With Crows features Special Agent Pendergast. The characters Mime and Wren make cameo appearances; Constance Greene may also make an appearance here. The character Corrie Swanson reads a novel entitled Beyond the Ice Limit, an obvious allusion to the Preston and Child's The Ice Limit. The thriller may or may not have something to do with the epilogue included in paperback copies of the book or available at Preston and Child's website.
  9. Brimstone, brings back Special Agent Pendergast, Vincent D'Agosta, Bryce Harriman, Laura Hayward, Constance Greene, and Wren. Pendergast again makes references to his bizarre family, and Diogenes Pendergast makes an appearance (we think). Nora Kelly and Bill Smithback are mentioned, but not seen.
  10. Dance of Death , Preston and Child's latest collaboration, features Special Agent Pendergast, Vincent D'Agosta, Laura Hayward, Constance Greene, and others.

Film adaptation

A film based on the book was released in 1997, but changed several aspects of the book, omitting numerous characters and changing the setting to the Chicago Museum of Natural History. The film is directed by Peter Hyams and stars Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore.

External links


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