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THE BOOK OF NAMES by Jill Gregory Kirkus Star


by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2007
ISBN: 0-312-36632-9
Publisher: St. Martin's

Intricately plotted historical suspense from the sharp new team of Gregory and Tintori, who come up with an intriguing synthesis of Jewish mysticism and modern murder mystery.

Representing the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, precious engraved stones from biblical priest Aaron’s breastplate have been dispersed throughout the centuries. Most have been lost, but one has wound up in Hartford, Conn., in the possession of David Shepherd, who retrieved the stone in 1986 from comatose pal Crispin Mueller after the two boys fell from a rooftop. Now a political-science professor in Washington, D.C., David has been obsessed since the accident with recording in his journal names of people unknown to him. When these names start turning up in news reports about suspicious deaths around the world, and when his ex-wife’s remarriage changes his beloved stepdaughter’s name to match one in his journal, David is persuaded to visit a specialist in Kabbalah. He learns that there are 36 righteous people in each generation, called the Lamed Vovniks, whose goodness keeps the world in existence. The Gnoseos, an evil offshoot of the Gnostics, are systematically killing off the Lamed Vovniks in order to gain enough knowledge to destroy God, explains Israeli archaeologist Yael HarPaz. It’s revealed that David’s stepdaughter Stacy, living in California, is in terrible danger; neither David’s political connections nor the Israeli secret police can rescue her from abduction by the Dark Angels—Crispin, now recovered, among them. So David and Yael make their way to the mystical city of Safed to resolve the ancient mystery by decoding a complicated system of letters and numbers. Attentive readers will particularly relish the crossword-puzzle aspect of the dénouement.

A swift, intelligent thriller.