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Desmond McCain: Money is power, and I was going to have more than you could possibly imagine. I'm going to shoot you now. Not once, but several times and then I'm going to walk away. Goodbye, Alex. You're going on a slow journey to hell.
Alex Rider: Let me know what it's like.

—Desmond McCain's final confrontation with Alex Rider before his death.

Reverend Desmond McCain is the main antagonist in Crocodile Tears, the eighth Alex Rider novel.


Reverend Desmond McCain began life with nothing—he had no known parents, no family, nothing. But he was given good fortune. He got a foster family in London and although he appreciated their goodness, he became aware that do-gooders needed victims, otherwise they couldn't do good.

Reverend Desmond McCain was educted in London and did politics and got into estate agency. His foster father arranged him a job in the estate agents and he did well because in the 70s it was easy to make money. Also because he was a black man in England this helped his fame. Reverend Desmond McCain went to a boxing gym in Limehouse in London and he trained to be a professional. Even from the start he was a violent man. Reverend Desmond McCain said when he believed he had killed a man by knocking him out, he was satisfied rather than horrified. But one day when he was fighting against a boxer named Buddy Sangster in the tournaments, he was knocked unconscious and had his jaw broken. This made it impossible for him to eat. McCain had his revenge by plotting to have Buddy Sangster killed by an assassin named the Gentleman. The Gentleman knocked Sangster off a station onto the path of a train.

Reverend McCain got his jaw fixed, but he had to pay to have the surgeon killed too since it was a botched job in Las Vegas. Reverend McCain then got into politics. He became influential in the Conservative party, eventually joining. Reverend McCain became a minister of sport, and he often met with the Prime Minister.

But eventually he was arrested for fraud, because one of his towers was overdrawn and he couldn't pay. He decided to set fire to the building, and drove in one night in the early morning and set alight to it all. But a homeless gentleman saw Reverend McCain drive in and douse the place. The man reported to police who arrested Reverend Desmond McCain.

McCain said prison was the worst moment of his life, he was abused so much that he considered suicide many times. But McCain was planning a vengeance, in the form of plagues.


Reverend Desmond McCain converted to Christianity because people like redeemed sinners, and Reverend McCain got ordained as a priest, after taking a Biblical test online. He studied The Bible so much he could recite bits of the book on conversation.

Reverend McCain got out early from prison, announced his redemption, and set up his own charity; First Aid, which was first on the scene of disasters, and gave food and health tablets. Many people believed First Aid was a good charity because they seemed to be efficient and get everything done. Take the Jowada Power Plant disaster in 2004, for example. It could have gone haywire, and could have killed everyone in the city. But thanks to First Aid, it was stopped.

What the authorities didn't know was that Reverend McCain hadn't redeemed himself at all - he was still pure evil. He was using his redemption as a cover. He himself had caused the Jowada explosion; by bribing an official to put a bomb inside. The bomb was put, but it killed the operative before he could get his money. Reverend McCain had promised he would kill the man all along; he had lied to him about giving him money.

Reverend McCain wasn't happy about the explosion; it didn't have catastrophic affect. But he made off with the money he got. He hoarded all the money he saved from the disasters he created over the years, and planned to use the money to make himself a new identity in the future.

Scotland, 2006

Desmond McCain was hosting his New Years' party at Loch Arkaig in Scotland and to Alex Rider's annoyance it was formal. Reverend Desmond McCain met Alex, and he played poker with him, and appeared rather friendly. But he became darker and more arrogant as the game went on, finally culminating in his apparent victory. But Alex had hidden all his aces, and he showed them to a horrified McCain, who told Alex that the boy had won all his money; however, Alex gave it all to First Aid. Reverend McCain got an emnity to Alex from that brief encounter, and planned to kill him.

Reverend McCain saw Alex talking to Edward Pleasure about genetically modified crops. Reverend McCain got alarmed, and hurried downstairs to interrupt, but Edward relaxed on seeing his host. Soon, Edward, Sabina and Alex left the party, bored. On the way home, Reverend McCain got Myra Bennett to shoot out Edward's tires, and this caused Edward's second-near death when his car crashed into the Loch and he almost drowned, but Alex and an Indian agent saved them.

Kidnapping Alex

Alex returned to London and then found a journalist chasing him. He went to MI6 for protection, and they wanted him to investigate Greenfields, a chemistry and bio-organism center outside Salisbury. Unfortunately, to Alex's horror, Reverend McCain was there.

Reverend McCain asked if the "shipment" was ready and spoke about the shipment being somewhat alive. When his lieutenant Leonard Straik noted an intruder, McCain was amused rather than worried. When his men had searched the whole plant for an intruder and found Alex, McCain noticed Alex amongst the schoolkids in the picture the CCTV had taken. McCain vowed revenge on Alex, saying it was twice he had crossed him both with humiliating results.

Reverend McCain had a delivery team kidnap Alex outside his street, complete with a false policeman. Alex was bundled out of the country with the help of Reverend McCain's partner, Dr Myra Bennett, who humiliated Alex by dressing him in a mental patient's clothes, cutting his hair really short, and making him take a drooling drug. Dr Bennett used the prejucides of passengers to avoid attention, which worked.

Dr. Bennett took Alex to Africa, to Kenya, where she made him fly a jet on McCain's orders, unwittingly spraying a field with mushroom fertiliser, which would trigger a mutation in the gene, which would start a fungal infection and a plague to kill those who ate it.

Reverend McCain himself appeared, and showed Alex his plan, both online and personally. Reverend McCain expressed his desire to move out to Australia or somewhere with Dr Myra Bennett and marry her and become billionaires and live a luxurious life.

Reverend McCain had Alex tortured in the morning, using a gruesome method; he hung Alex for a couple of minutes over a pit of hungry, sinister crocodiles, which were eager to get Alex. Reverend McCain had done this many times with many people and he knew how to make it as slow as possible. He made it a nightmare for Alex and he expressed his belief that Alex had been a naughty boy.

Eventually, Reverend McCain got the truth from Alex that yes, MI6 told him to visit Greenfields but no, he wasn't working for them. Reverend McCain told Alex he could die there for being so meddlesome. He walked away and told Dr Bennett to have pictures of Alex's death ready.

Soon, McCain's guards reported that Bennett herself had been eaten by the crocodiles and, impossibly, Alex had escaped.

McCain sent his men out to get Alex, but even this failed when Alex got to the dam ahead of the men, and blew up the dam, destroying Reverend McCain's poisoned wheat field and preventing his plague from spreading - thus eliminating Gordon Brown's risk of fighter jets which, Alan Blunt said, would increase the risk of contamination.

His plague and dreams destroyed, Reverend Desmond McCain flew to an airfield he had seen Alex head to, and he shot the Indian spy who saved Alex at his castle and his torture, and marched roaring over to Alex for the final showdown. Reverend Desmond McCain bellowed that he would have Alex beg and act like a child for once, and aimed his pistol, firing at Alex, but Alex ducked. Reverend Desmond McCain knelt on an oil drum, and aimed at Alex, saying Alex was on his way to Hell. Alex said "Let me know what it's like there," and he shot his exploding pencil at Reverend Desmond McCain's oil drum, which exploded, igniting and burning the evil priest to death.

Physical Appearance

Desmond was an immensely large and powerfully-built black man. He was bald, with grey eyes and an incredible aura of extravagance and power. He wore a crucifix in his ear, a sign of his turn to Christianity during his prison sentence. His most distinguishing feature was that his face was permanently, devastatingly marred: After Buddy Sangster beat him in his boxing career by dislocating his jaw, and the plastic surgery went wrong, leaving one side of his face almost out of sync with the rest of his skull.


When the dying begins, just remember. It wasn't me who started it. It was you.

—Desmond McCain to Alex Rider

Desmond was intelligent, ambitious, ruthless, eccentric, resourceful, and extremely cynical. He was a determined social climber to the point of being as greedy hypocrite. In public view, he was incredibly warm and greeted his friends and acquaintances with kindness and generosity. However, he concealed a bitter, murderous and independent side that was, all in all, malevolent and villainous. Desmond showed bitterness towards his racial bullying as a child, and claimed that it had stayed with him all his life. He was also a cold-blooded sadist who enjoyed causing pain. He expressed this during his boxing career and demonstrated it again when torturing Alex Rider with the lake of crocodiles. His breakdown occurred when Alex foiled his schemes and he lost his self-control altogether.

Bible quotes

  • Corinthians 19: 24 - 'We are all running the race but only one receives the prize'
  • 1 Samuel 23: 7 - 'God has delivered you into my hands'
  • Deuteronomy 32: 20 - 'For they are a wicked generation, children who have no faith'
  • Revelations 1:18 - 'Behold, I have the keys of death and hell'
  • Romans 12: 19 - 'Vengeance is mine. I will repay, sayeth the Lord'


  • Photo: none
  • General information: various sources, including but not limited to:


  • His death is strikingly similar to Franz Sanchez, the main antagonist from the Bond movie 'License to Kill'.
Crocodile Tears Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderAlan BluntTulip JonesJack StarbrightDesmond McCainSabina PleasureLeonard Straik
Other Key Characters
Edward PleasureSmithersLiz PleasureJohn CrawleyRavi ChandraHarry BulmanMyra BennettRahim