Brimstone (Special Agent Pendergast Series #5)

Brimstone (Special Agent Pendergast Series #5)

by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

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When FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers a murder in the attic of a Long Island estate, a scorched claw print leads him down a dark trail of unspeakable terror.

A body is found in the attic of a fabulous Long Island estate.
There is a claw print scorched into the wall, and the stench of sulfur chokes the air.
When FBI Special Agent Pendergast investigates the gruesome crime, he discovers that thirty years ago four men conjured something unspeakable.
Has the devil come to claim his due?
Some things can't be undone.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455582914
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 05/27/2014
Series: Special Agent Pendergast Series , #5
Pages: 752
Sales rank: 59,677
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

The thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child "stand head and shoulders above their rivals" (Publishers Weekly). Preston and Child's Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities were chosen by readers in a National Public Radio poll as being among the one hundred greatest thrillers ever written, and Relic was made into a number-one box office hit movie. They are coauthors of the famed Pendergast series and their recent novels include Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, Two Graves, and Gideon's Corpse. In addition to his novels, Preston writes about archaeology for the New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines. Lincoln Child is a former book editor who has published five novels of his own, including the huge bestseller Deep Storm.
Readers can sign up for The Pendergast File, a monthly "strangely entertaining note" from the authors, at their website, The authors welcome visitors to their alarmingly active Facebook page, where they post regularly.

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A., Pomona College, 1978

Read an Excerpt


By Douglas Preston Lincoln Child

Warner Books

Copyright © 2004 Lincoln Child and Splendide Mendax, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-53143-X

Chapter One

Agnes Torres parked her white Ford Escort in the little parking area outside the hedge and stepped into the cool dawn air. The hedges were twelve feet high and as impenetrable as a brick wall; only the shingled peak of the big house could be seen from the street. But she could hear the surf thundering and smell the salt air of the invisible ocean beyond.

Agnes carefully locked the car-it paid to be careful, even in this neighborhood-and, fumbling with the massive set of keys, found the right one and stuck it into the lock. The heavy sheet-metal gate swung inward, exposing a broad expanse of green lawn that swept three hundred yards down to the beach, flanked by two dunes. A red light on a keypad just inside the gate began blinking, and she entered the code with nervous fingers. She had thirty seconds before the sirens went off. Once, she had dropped her keys and couldn't punch in the code in time, and the thing had awakened practically the whole town and brought three police cars. Mr. Jeremy had been so angry she thought he would breathe fire. It had been awful.

Agnes punched the last button and the light turned green. She breathed a sigh of relief, locked the gate, and paused to cross herself. Then she drew out her rosary, held the first beadreverently between her fingers. Fully armed now, she turned and began waddling across the lawn on short, thick legs, walking slowly to allow herself time to intone the Our Fathers, the Hail Marys, and the Glory Bes in quiet Spanish. She always said a decade on her rosary when entering the Grove Estate.

The vast gray house loomed in front of her, a single eyebrow window in the roof peak frowning like the eye of a Cyclops, yellow against the steel gray of the house and sky. Seagulls circled above, crying restlessly.

Agnes was surprised. She never remembered that light on before. What was Mr. Jeremy doing in the attic at seven o'clock in the morning? Normally he didn't get out of bed until noon.

Finishing her prayers, she replaced the rosary and crossed herself again: a swift, automatic gesture, made with a rough hand that had seen decades of domestic work. She hoped Mr. Jeremy wasn't still awake. She liked to work in an empty house, and when he was up, everything was so unpleasant: the cigarette ashes he dropped just behind her mop, the dishes he heaped in the sink just after she had washed, the comments and the endless swearing to himself, into the phone or at the newspaper, always followed by a harsh laugh. His voice was like a rusty knife-it cut and slashed the air. He was thin and mean and stank of cigarettes and drank brandy at lunch and entertained sodomites at all hours of the day and night. Once he had tried to speak Spanish with her but she had quickly put an end to that. Nobody spoke Spanish to her except family and friends, and Agnes Torres spoke English perfectly well enough.

On the other hand, Agnes had worked for many people in her life, and Mr. Jeremy was very correct with her employment. He paid her well, always on time, he never asked her to stay late, never changed her schedule, and never accused her of stealing. Once, early on, he had blasphemed against the Lord in her presence, and she had spoken to him about it, and he had apologized quite civilly and had never done it again.

She came up the curving flagstone path to the back door, inserted a second key, and once again fumbled nervously with the keypad, turning off the internal alarm.

The house was gloomy and gray, the mullioned windows in front looking out on a long seaweed-strewn beach to an angry ocean. The sound of the surf was muffled here and the house was hot. Unusually hot.

She sniffed. There was a strange smell in the air, like a greasy roast left too long in the oven. She waddled into the kitchen but it was empty. The dishes were heaped up, and the place was a mess as usual, stale food everywhere, and yet the smell wasn't coming from here. It looked like Mr. Jeremy had cooked fish the night before. She didn't usually clean his house on Tuesdays, but he'd had one of his countless dinner parties the prior evening. Labor Day had come and gone a month before, but Mr. Jeremy's weekend parties wouldn't end until November.

She went into the living room and sniffed the air again. Something was definitely cooking somewhere. And there was another smell on top of it, as if somebody had been playing with matches.

Agnes Torres felt a vague sense of alarm. Everything was more or less as she had left it when she went away yesterday, at two in the afternoon, except that the ashtrays were overflowing with butts and the usual empty wine bottles stood on the sideboard, dirty dishes were piled in the sink, and someone had dropped soft cheese on the rug and stepped in it.

She raised her plump face and sniffed again. The smell came from above.

She mounted the sweep of stairs, treading softly, and paused to sniff at the landing. She tiptoed past Grove's study, past his bedroom door, continued down the hall, turned the dogleg, and came to the door to the third floor. The smell was stronger here and the air was heavier, warmer. She tried to open the door but found it locked.

She took out her bunch of keys, clinked through them, and unlocked the door. Madre de Dios-the smell was much worse. She mounted the steep unfinished stairs, one, two, three, resting her arthritic legs for a moment on each tread. She rested again at the top, breathing heavily.

The attic was vast, with one long hall off which were half a dozen unused children's bedrooms, a playroom, several bathrooms, and an unfinished attic space jammed with furniture and boxes and horrible modern paintings.

At the far end of the hall, she saw a bar of yellow light under the door to the last bedroom.

She took a few tentative steps forward, paused, crossed herself again. Her heart was hammering, but with her hand clutching the rosary she knew she was safe. As she approached the door, the smell grew steadily worse.

She tapped lightly on it, just in case some guest of Mr. Jeremy was sleeping in there, hungover or sick. But there was no response. She grasped the doorknob and was surprised to find it slightly warm to the touch. Was there a fire? Had somebody fallen asleep, cigarette in hand? There was definitely a faint smell of smoke, but it wasn't just smoke somehow: it was something stronger. Something foul.

She tried the doorknob, found it locked. It reminded her of the time, when she was a little girl at the convent school, when crazy old Sister Ana had died and they had to force open her door.

Somebody on the other side might need her assistance; might be sick or incapacitated. Once again she fumbled with the keys. She had no idea which one went to the door, so it wasn't until perhaps the tenth try that the key turned. Holding her breath, she opened the door, but it moved only an inch before stopping, blocked by something. She pushed, pushed harder, heard a crash on the other side.

Santa Maria, it was going to wake up Mr. Jeremy. She waited, but there was no sound of his tread, no slamming bathroom door or flushing toilet, none of the sounds that signaled his irascible rising.

She pushed at the door and was able to get her head inside, holding her breath against the smell. A thin screen of haze drifted in the room, and it was as hot as an oven. The room had been shut up for years-Mr. Jeremy despised children-and dirty spiderwebs hung from the peeling beadboard walls. The crash had been caused by the toppling of an old armoire that had been pushed up against the door. In fact, all the furniture in the room seemed to have been piled against the door, except for the bed. The bed, she could see, was on the far side of the room. Mr. Jeremy lay on it, fully clothed.

"Mr. Jeremy?"

But Agnes Torres knew there would be no answer. Mr. Jeremy wasn't sleeping, not with his charred eyes burned permanently open, the ashy cone of his mouth frozen in a scream and his blackened tongue-swelled to the size of a chorizo sausage-sticking straight up from it like a flagpole. A sleeping man wouldn't be lying with his elbows raised above the bed, fists clenched so hard that blood had leaked between the fingers. A sleeping man wouldn't have his torso scorched and caved in upon itself like a burned log. She had seen many dead people during her childhood in Colombia, and Mr. Jeremy looked deader than any of them. He was as dead as they come.

She heard someone speaking and realized it was herself, murmuring En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espiritu Santo ... She crossed herself yet again, fumbling out her rosary, unable to move her feet or take her eyes from the scene in the room. There was a scorched mark on the floor, right at the foot of the bed: a mark which Agnes recognized.

In that moment, she understood exactly what had happened to Mr. Jeremy Grove.

A muffled cry escaped her throat and she suddenly had the energy to back out of the room and shut the door. She fumbled with the keys and relocked it, all the while murmuring Creo en Dios, Padre todopoderoso, creador del cielo y de la tierra. She crossed herself again and again and again, clutching the rosary and holding it up to her chest as she backed down the hall, step by step, sobs mingling with her mumbled prayers.

The cloven hoofprint burned into the floor told her everything she needed to know. The devil had finally come for Jeremy Grove.


Excerpted from Brimstone by Douglas Preston Lincoln Child Copyright © 2004 by Lincoln Child and Splendide Mendax, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Brimstone (Special Agent Pendergast Series #5) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 247 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the last in the Pendergast series if you happen to be reading them in the order recommended by the authors. It is just as readable as a stand alone novel but if read in sequence it ties together many story lines from the previous 4 books, especially that involving the enigmatic Constance Greene.
RobertGaines More than 1 year ago
Normally I am stingy in donating stars, but I truly believe Brimstone deserves 4 1/2. It captured me from the very beginning with the perfect modality of suspense wherein I feel the metronome ticking methodically while the action and suspencse is building. I have the feeling of surging interest driving forward, while held back by the author's pace. The reult is truly seductive tension and magnificent suspense. The only fault I found was in one transition (which I won't describe because it would ruin the plot for those who haven't read the book.) This transition, I felt could have been smoother. Maybe the authors were as impatient in writing it as I was in reading it. As a trivial matter, the authors should be spanked and sent to their rooms without dinner for using the double possessive e.g., it belonged to a friend of mine. "Belonged to" is possessive, and "of mine" is repetitious and uses a possessive pronoun as object of a preposition. This usage caused me to ponder if that section wasn't dicatated to a recorder rather than typed on a computer. The authors should be congratulated for the research that went into the conceptual environment of the book. There is nothing hum-drum and I felt I learned quite a bit. Even the constructon of violins keeps interest bright. This is an elegant novel and a "DON'T MISS" book--for sure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everybody who likes the books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child should definitly read this one. Its one of their best books so far. But even for new readers if you are looking for a page-turning thriller you wont be able to put this one down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Preston and Child wear me out. Their plots are always intense - where do these two come up with plot-lines like this? Each Pendergast book I read just keeps getting more intense - and better than the last. I was so glad to see Lt. D'Agosta back - his character goes with with Pendergasts.........I'm ready for the next book of the series...
Kasia_S More than 1 year ago
Brimstone is the fifth fantastic read from the ingenious Preston and Child duo and it doesn't disappoint. I thought that the book was simply fantastic and extremely delectable, and the moment I finished it I felt a deep hunger to pounce on the next, if I had the sixth book in my possession I have no doubt that I would be unable to leave it alone. Meticulously researched, the novel travels from the streets of New York into the lush and romantic Italy, where Pendergast meets with a nemesis so grand, evil and intense that everyone has little doubt about it being the devil himself. I adore that these books have an aura of enigmatic and mystical proportions, anything is possible and everything somehow has an explanation. The book is quite long but a lot of things happen and the chases, the intrigue and the clues take up a lot of time, making the entire story feel alive and throbbing with anticipation of what happens next. My favorite literary crush, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is fabulous as usual, with plenty of tricks up his sleeves ( literally) and with his senses heightened to take on this hard challenge he takes charge at solving another unusual crime while risking his life. When a famous art critic dies under strange circumstances Pendergast doesn't tale long to start connecting small clues, they form into a cluster of horrifying secrets and involved more people who seem to die in similar fashion before anyone can get to them. There's a connection between the strange, rich people and the hellish ways in which they perished, but the closer they agent gets to the truth the more obstacles appear on his way, seems that not only is the devil out to get him but the mortals involved in protecting the secrets are as ruthless and vicious as they come. His research takes him and former NYPD officer Vincent D'Agosta to monasteries, castles and catacombs of ancient Italians, where the secrets are gravely guarded and finding the truth is tougher than anyone could have expected. I adored the last hundred pages, the tale really took a life of it's own and the ending was stunning, I am worried but hopeful, gah..books such as this one really take me somewhere else, and I can't wait to dive back in. - Kasia S.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader of all types of fiction and have been reading the books of Preston and Child since I picked up a copy of Relic several years ago. I was hooked and have since read everything these guys have written. I find it hard to beleive that more people don't buy their books or know about their work. Maybe they just need a new publicist but as far as I am concerned they are on my 'must read' list. From Relic through Brimstone Preston and Child do not disappoint. Great reads that mix a bit of the supernatural with reality that keep you turning pages until early in the morning. Brimstone continues the development of Agent Pendergast. I am looking forward to the next Preston/Child work. If you like suspense and occult type thrillers the Books of Preston and Child are a must. I would recommend you start with their earlier work and read those first. Although not necessary, they help to understand Agent Pendergast. I have yet to be disappointed in any of their works. They simply are in a genre of their own. Their books should be on everyone's bestseller list. Pick up any one of their books and you will be hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Emmy and Tony nominee Rene Auberjonois gives a suave, sophisticated, suspenseful reading of this over-the-top thoroughly diverting thriller by the team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Protagonist FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast solves puzzles with finesse. He's been raised in privilege, yet, if necessary, he can fight like a street wise tough. He's a bit of a contradiction, and one of the most charismatic detectives to pop from the pages of a book. With 'Brimstone' he's teamed with former NYPD cop Vincent D'Agosta - a perfect foil for the urbane Pendergast to try to discover why art critic Jeremy Grove is found dead, toasted to a blackened mass. After all, this is the Hamptons, where such grisly crimes don't occur. Further, quite clearly next to the late Grove is the imprint of a cloven hoof burned into the floor. What the devil could that mean? Exactly. As more bodies are found and secrets revealed many wonder if the Devil actually has landed on planet Earth. Seems that these crimes can only be explained by the supernatural. Fortunately for listeners who enjoy scenic locations, Pendergast and D'Agosta's probing takes them to Italy, to an old castle in the countryside. Some two decades ago the unthinkable was summoned forth in this place. Vivid in detail 'Brimstone' is terror both horrific and terrific. - Gail Cooke
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good read......who is the character with one blue eye and one hazel colored eye ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was a bit tedious in the first half but the pace eventually picked up and it became a very enjoyable read. While some of the plot was over-the-top implausible, it is fiction so I think some literary license should be given. Suspend disbelief snd just enjoy the journey for a while. Overall, a wonderful book. Stephanie Clanahan
RV67 More than 1 year ago
It is an essential part of the Special Agent Pendergast series. As always, the series does involve violence and some gore, so none of the books are for the squeamish.
Norsk More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book. I have had many hours of enjoyment trying to match wits with Agent Pendergast. The author has a admirable talent for description, and keeps my imagination in high gear. I sadly have finished all of this series, and hope there will be more to follow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book intrigued me with a twisting, turning plot. the characters all had lifelike flaws, however, my favorite was Pendergast, an outstanding masterpiece. he is my favorite type of character intelligent, cool, and collected. I loved how all of the answers were not given at the end of the book there are mysterious things left to wonder about. for instance, who is Constance? where-and when- is she from? i cannot wait to see this and other questions answered in the next installation of the series.
tiddleyboom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, dummy me, I didn't realize that The Book of the Dead was the first of this 'trilogy', which is not a big deal as they each work well as stand alones. The only issue is that I kind of found out a few spoilers, but still Brimstone was another unputdownable book for me. Good action, unusal characters...really unusal.
candlemark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another one hit out of the park by Preston & Child. I can't help it; I have a soft spot for modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, and these guys do it best. Pendergast and D'Agosta are fantastic characters, although D'Agosta could use some more depth, and the mysteries never fail to intrigue and excite. Brimstone has moved away from the truly supernatural aspects that marked the series when it started, into high-tech explanations for seemingly supernatural events, but that's works better with the Sherlockian feel, honestly.I'm going to have to go track down the rest of the Pendergast books now.
RogueBelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A worthy entry into the Pendergast series, but far from the best of them. Billing this as the first of the Diogenes trilogy is a bit of a stretch, as Diogenes never appears and is only obliquely and briefly referred to. A single incident sets up the next book, Dance with Death, but other than that, this book is fairly self-contained. A perk for me was getting to spend more time with D'Agosta -- Brimstone cuts down on its cast of primary characters, so unlike some of the earlier novels, there aren't quite as many viewpoints on the story, which is both good and bad. I appreciated D'Agosta's heightened importance, but I missed Bill. Brimstone is also at times more of a straight whodunnit mystery than the other novels, though it retains Preston and Child's wonderful thriller blend.
jewelryladypam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
LOVED Cabinet of Curiosities but I was not that impressed with this one. It dragged a bit although it had some interesting twists.
mjscott on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Constance Green Introduced but not Explained, Pendergast off his game, D'agosta meets Laura Hayward, preacher subplot superfluous,
Grandeplease on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fire features prominently in this "who done it?" that features police officers Laura Hayward and Vincent D'Agosta and FBI Special Agent Pendergast. At times that suspense carries the plot and at other times it is the detail. Preston Child fans are accustomed to thoroughly researched storylines and this book does not disappoint.I enjoyed this book immensely and if you occasionally buy books in hardback rather than wait for the paperback edition, this is one that is worth the expense.In the "how I would improve this book" category is the elimination of the annoying habit of the authors to incorporate a unique or particularly effective visual word on multiple occasions in close proximity. In this book the word is "cadaverousness" on page 32 and "cadaverous" on page 40. Editors, please do your job!I noticed at least one reviewer was critical of some of the chases in the book opining their inclusion was merely a pretext for the movie. I would enjoy a movie with the chases and they certainly did not lessen my enjoying the book. The story does end with a loose end or two. They will undoubtedly be tied in a subsequent tale, which is one of the inherent problems of reoccurring characters - their immorality. It is too painful to kill the franchise.
burnit99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm quite enjoying this duo's suspense novels featuring FBI Special Agent Pendergast, even though my reading of the books is pretty scattered as I pick them up at used bookstores. When I've found them all, I may have to pick a quiet summer and re-read them from the beginning. This one features a gruesome killing that seems straight out of medieval days, a spontaneous combustion with features that suggest a pact with the devil. Pendergast, police officers Vincent D'Agosta and Laura Hayward search for an explanation, but as similar murders occur, it becomes apparent that they are linked by an unholy pact made thirty years ago by the victims. Another well-written book by this pair, with a whodunit twist that took me completely off guard.
bookwormteri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
People's souls are being claimed by Satan...or is there something else involved? Will keep you guessing til the end.
israfel13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the book that starts the unofficial "Pendergast Trilogy" and was everything I'd have come to expect from two truly entertaining and talented authors.
jmcclain19 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brimstone is my first foray into the world of Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. It's quite the whirlwind of a book, full of thrilling twists & turns, filled with history and a touch of the paranormal, and it features two sleuths with a flair for the dramatic. FBI Agent Pendergast is really unlike any other major crime solver I've ever read, even bordering a tad on the unbelievable, with Officer D'Agosta providing a willing foil to Pengergast's brilliance. The story contains a huge mix of contrasts with regard to the story line - defense contractors with espionage tendencies, a serial murderer, the modern day rise of the devil in modern society and the search for the world's greatest violin. But Preston & Child manage to weave all that together quite seamlessly. As a whole, Brimstone was entertaining & enlightening - and I look forward to moving on to future novels about Pendergast & D'Agosta.
hoosgracie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good mix of supernatural/thriller/mystery elements. Very enjoyable, especially the working relationship between Agent Pendergrast and Officer D¿Agosta. Look forward to the next book.
eduscapes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again Preston and Child have written an exciting suspense. With much of the book set in Italy, this novel reminded me of the books by Dan Brown. What I particularly enjoy about the books starring Agent Pendergast is the hint of supernatural and unknown that's woven into the otherwise traditional mystery. Extremely well-written, these novels are about the only mysteries that I'm willing to read because they keep me thinking from beginning to end.