Dr. Nora Waterford Kelly is an archaeologist associate of Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. She is the main protagonist of Thunderhead, both the Preston-Child novel and the fictionalized in-universe version by Bill Smithback.

Most recently a curator in the Anthropology Department of the New York Museum of Natural History, Nora was last seen in New Mexico contemplating a job offer from the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute.

Early Life

Nora was born in New Mexico to Padraic and Liz Kelly, eventually moving with her family to a hobby ranch in Santa Fe that her father named Rancho de las Cabrillas.


Nora is described as being fit, slim, tan, and of average height, with short, wavy copper-colored bronze hair, a freckled nose, deep hazel green-brown eyes, and long legs.


Despite her initial poor impressions of him during the events of Thunderhead, Nora eventually developed a relationship with reporter and author Bill Smithback. They had moved in together by the conclusion of The Cabinet of Curiosities, and were married sometime prior to the beginning of Brimstone.