Authors: Jill Gregory
THE BOOK OF NAMES
“WATCH OUT, DAN BROWN. Intelligent suspense .Â .Â . combines the Kabbalah, tarot, and the forces of good and evil into a tense murder mystery .Â .Â .
The Book of Names
self-assuredly fulfills the requirements of the religious thriller.”
“Relentless and riveting,
The Book of Names
speeds you across continents and centuries in the ultimate seductive read. From fascinating characters to real-life legends, this debut ranks as unforgettable.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Last Spymaster
“The Book of Names
grabs you on page one and doesn't let you go. Weaving together the Kabbalah, the tarot, and the forces of good and evil, this chilling thriller has a self-assured voice and all the right elements to make for a nonstop, nail-biting read.”
âM. J. Rose, international bestselling author of
“Convincing characters and a rapidly moving plot combine to create an enjoyable religious thriller.”
“Intricately plotted historical suspense .Â .Â . an intriguing synthesis of Jewish mysticism and modern murder mystery. A swift, intelligent thriller.”
and Karen Tintori
St. Martin's Paperbacks
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
THE BOOK OF NAMES
Copyright Â© 2007 by Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori.
Cover photo Â© Charles O'Rear / Corbis
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Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2006050600
Printed in the United States of America
St. Martin's Press hardcover edition / January 2007
St. Martin's Paperbacks edition / February 2008
St. Martin's Paperbacks are published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
10Â Â Â 9Â Â Â 8Â Â Â 7Â Â Â 6Â Â Â 5Â Â Â 4Â Â Â 3Â Â Â 2Â Â Â 1
To my precious family
my wonderful husband, Larry, and my incredible daughter, Rachel
And to the memory of my beloved parents
With love always
To my gemstones
my brilliant husband, Lawrence, my rock-solid sons, Steven and Mitchel, and the glowing daughter Mitch brought us, Leslie
The inspiration for
The Book of Names
goes back fifteen years. It was sparked by Geri Levit, who first shared with us the legend of the Lamed Vovniks.
Many others have inspired and taught us during the writing of this book. We acknowledge them with appreciation and gratitude: Rosemary Ahern, Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, Rabbi Lauren Berkun, Jean Donnelly, Myrna Dosie, Ruthe Goldstein, Larry Greenberg, Rachel Greenberg, Charlotte Hughes, Lawrence Katz, Mitchel Katz, Leslie Katz, Steven Katz, Irving Koppel, Dr. Patti Nakfoor, Claudia Scroggins, Rae Ann Sharfman, Haim Sidor, the Safed Foundation, Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Sowilowsky, Jennifer Weiss, Rebecca Weiss, and Marianne Willman.
We are deeply grateful for the support and enthusiasm of three special womenâour phenomenal editor, Nichole Argyres, and our dedicated agents, Ellen Levine and Sally Wofford-Girand.
The world must contain not less than thirty-six righteous people who are blessed by the
JANUARY 7, 1986
Two men shoveled the sand under cover of darkness. Their only light in the cave was a lantern set beside their packs. This series of caves and tombs, fifteen miles from Cairo, was a treasure trove of artifacts and antiquities. For three thousand years, Saqqara, the City of the Dead, had been the burial place of kings and commonersâarchaeologists might spend several lifetimes and never discover all of its secrets. And neither would the tomb robbers.
Sir Rodney Davis, knighted for discovering the temple of Akhenaton and its dazzling treasures, felt the familiar tug of excitement. They were close. He knew it. He could almost feel the crisp papyri in his hands.
The Book of Names. Part of it. All of it. He didn't know. He only knew that it was here. It had to be here.
The same tingle of exhilaration had coursed through him on the hill of Ketef Hinnom in Israel the night he unearthed the gold scepter of King Solomon. Topped by a thumb-sized pomegranate carved of ivory and inscribed in tiny Hebrew script, it was the first artifact found intact to link the biblical king of the tenth century B.C. to the
fortifications recently discovered there. But unearthing the Book of Names would dwarf that and every other discovery. It would ensure his place in history.
He trusted his instincts. They were like a divining rod pulling him toward matchless treasure. And tonight, in the sands where ancient kings had walked, Sir Rodney dug on, fueled by the lust of discovery, the thrill of uncovering what no one had seen since the days of angels and chariots.
Beside him, Raoul threw aside his shovel and reached for his water canteen. He drank deeply.
“Take a break, Raoul. You started an hour before me.”
“You're the one who should rest, sir. They've been here all these millennia, they'll wait for us another three or four hours.”
Sir Rodney paused and glanced over at the man who had been his loyal assistant for nearly a dozen years. How old had Raoul LaDouceur been when he'd started? Sixteen, seventeen? He was the most tireless worker Sir Rodney had ever seen. A reserved, dignified young man distinguished by his olive Mediterranean coloring and deep-set eyesâone the color of sapphires, the other the deep mahogany of Turkish coffee beans.
“I've been waiting half my life for this discovery, my friend. What is an additional hour's work at this point?” He shoveled another load of sand from the cave floor. Raoul watched in silence for a moment, then recapped his canteen and took up his own shovel.
They worked for more than an hour, the stillness broken only by the sound of their own labored breathing and the soft thud of shovel against sand. Suddenly, a chinking sound froze Sir Rodney's hand. He dropped to his knees, his weariness forgotten, and began to brush the sand
aside with his long, calloused fingers. Raoul knelt beside him, shared excitement racing through his veins.
“The lantern, Raoul,” Sir Rodney said softly as his hands rounded the curved sides of the clay vessel embedded in the sand. With small, careful rocking motions, he freed it.
Behind him Raoul lowered the lantern, the light revealing a roll of parchment tucked within the vessel's mouth.
“Good God, this could be it.” Sir Rodney's hand actually trembled as he drew the papyri from their hiding place.
Raoul rushed to unroll the tarp and stood back while his mentor unrolled the yellowed sheaves across it. Both of them recognized the early Hebrew script and knew what they had found.
Sir Rodney bent closer, peering at the minute letters, his heart racing. The greatest find of his career was here beneath his fingertips.
“By God, Raoul, this could change the world.”
“Indeed, sir. It certainly could.”
Raoul set the lantern down at the edge of the canvas. He stepped back, one hand slipping into his pocket. Silently, he withdrew the coiled length of wire. His hands were steady as he snared Sir Rodney's neck in the garrote. The archaeologist couldn't even squeak.
It was over in a flash. With one movement, Raoul yanked him away from the precious parchments and snapped his neck.
The old man was right as usual, he mused as he gathered up the papyri. This find would change the world.
Raoul was too elated by his victory to notice the amber gemstone nestled at the bottom of the vessel left behind.