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Authors: Karen Tintori

The Illumination

BOOK: The Illumination
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Praise for
The Illumination


The Illumination
might invite comparisons to
The Da Vinci Code.
Some similar plot twists aside, this is a better story. More nuanced characters and vastly superior writing quality make for a breathlessly fun read.”

—The Star-Ledger


“The intrigue is high. The excitement is palpable. The story is priceless. Combining mysticism, history, and fanaticism, this is one thriller that's simply impossible to put down until you've reached the ending—breathless and so well satisfied. Tintori and Gregory are first-rate storytellers!”

—M.J. Rose, international bestselling author of
The Memorist
The Reincarnationist


“Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori return with another extraordinary thriller after their outstanding
The Book of Names.
Their new novel,
The Illumination,
skillfully weaves history, ancient art, dark legend, and religious fanaticism into a story of high-stakes terror and international intrigue. The excitement stays at a high pitch from the opening scene at the looted Iraqi National Museum to the final sensational twist. A page-turner extraordinaire.”

—New York Times
bestselling author
Douglas Preston, co-author of
The Monster of Florence
The Wheel of Darkness


“Stirring and imaginative. A tense, intelligent, and surprising thrill. Drum-tight in execution, fueled by imagination, the plot is as sharp as a broken shard of glass. If you like your tales loaded with intrigue, treachery, and a wealth of secrets, you're going to love
The Illumination

—New York Times
bestselling author
Steve Berry, author of
The Charlemagne Pursuit
The Templar Legacy



Praise for
The Book of Names


“WATCH OUT, DAN BROWN. Intelligent suspense. . .combines the Kabbalah, tarot, and the forces of good and evil into a tense murder mystery . . .
The Book of Names
self-assuredly fulfills the requirements of the religious thriller.”

—The Economist


“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.”

—Gayle Lynds,
New York Times
bestselling author
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.”

—M. J. Rose, international bestselling author of
The Reincarnationist


“Convincing characters and a rapidly moving plot combine to create an enjoyable religious thriller.”

—Library Journal


“Intricately plotted historical suspense . . . an intriguing synthesis of Jewish mysticism and modern murder mystery. A swift, intelligent thriller.”

—Kirkus Reviews






St. Martin's Paperbacks Titles by
Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori


The Book of Names


The Illumination




Jill Gregory
Karen Tintori

St. Martin's Paperbacks


If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”






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.




Copyright © 2008 by Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori.

Excerpt from
The Book of Names
copyright © 2007 by Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori.


All rights reserved.


For information address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2008029878


ISBN: 978-0-312-36526-4


Printed in the United States of America


St. Martin's Press hardcover edition / January 2009

St. Martin's Paperbacks edition / December 2009


St. Martin's Paperbacks are published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.


10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1






For my parents with love.

And for my wonderful husband and beautiful daughter, Who bring such luminous light and love into my life.




For the people who most light my life with love and laughter—my husband, Lawrence; my children, Mitchel and Leslie, and Steven. And especially for Seth Mindell, a true life saver.





With appreciation and warmest thanks to the many people who were so generous with their knowledge and their time—Richard Rytman, former Special Agent with the FBI, and Greg Suhajda, former Special Agent with the FBI, both now at Veritas Global; Professor Paul M. Kintner Jr. at Cornell University; Seth Mindell, M.D., Marianne Willman, Charlotte Hughes, Hy Safran, and Liat Ayzencot at the Israel Antiquities Authority; Robert Woznicki and Alessandra Gesualdi in Rome; Frank Olivo, Christina Papakirk, Mary Knoll, Melissa Flashman, and Dr. William Lanford at Ion Beam Lab, University at Albany, State University of New York; Cindy Shaffran, Frank Viviano, and Benjamin Neumann at Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, NASA; Nancy L. Green, friend and historian; Michael Stone, Deede Auster, Yossi Benjamin, and Haiping Sun, Ph.D., at Electron Microbeam Analysis Laboratory, University of Michigan; Jay Knoll at Energy Conversion Devices; and Daniela Di Castro, director,
Museo Ebraico di Roma
(The Jewish Museum of Rome).

Special thanks to our insightful first readers, Rachel Greenberg and Steven Katz, who have once again noticed what we missed, and offered numerous brilliant suggestions.

We're also grateful for the support of the entire team at St. Martin's Press, especially our editor, Nichole Argyres, with
whom it's always a pleasure to work, and to Matthew Shear, Kylah McNeill, Christina Harcar, and Kerry Nordling. Major thanks as well to our agents, Ellen Levine and Sally Wofford-Girand, for all of their support and creative input.






Light is sown for the righteous.


—Psalms 97:11


The light of the wicked is withheld.


—Job 38:15


Iraq National Museum
April 12, 2003


Ibrahim Baaj picked his way through the darkness.

All around him, irreplaceable history lay shattered. As U.S. troops advanced along the dusty streets of Baghdad, chaos and pandemonium ruled. And so did greed.

Ibrahim understood greed. He was driven by it. It was greed that called him here tonight as common looters stormed the great museum. Little did this rabble know that
greed surpassed even theirs. As did his daring.

He was betraying men so powerful, so far-reaching, that he himself marveled at the brazenness of his own audacity.

Ibrahim smiled to himself through the sweat dripping from beneath his mustache. This steamy stone building was home to 170,000 of Mesopotamia's oldest cultural treasures—some dating back to the cradle of civilization. Yet the crazed throng coursed through the galleries, shooting, grabbing, smashing, and plundering as if they were in a junk shop.

Very few were professionals as he was, searching with purpose and discrimination, carefully selecting the booty they would spirit away. Yet he suspected that amid this greedy throng there must be one or two agents who'd been sent by the United States or Israel, for both nations knew that this museum hid the greatest treasure of them all. The treasure he'd come for and intended to claim before the night was over.

Ibrahim gasped for air as he descended alone into the windowless, blackened bowels of the building and the oxygen-deprived chamber closed in around him. He paused to listen, blinking as beads of sweat stung his eyes. Despite the clamor above, he could discern no sounds down here besides his own ragged breaths. Trying to ignore the stale stench, he edged forward, prowling through the tomblike underworld of the museum's five basement storerooms. The narrow beam of his flashlight was nearly useless, barely illuminating the floor directly beneath his feet.

No matter. He'd had twelve years while Saddam's Republican Guard patrolled the compound—fearing another American strike—to memorize the crudely sketched layout that Aslam Hameed had given him. Twelve years to rehearse in his mind's eye, waiting for a night like this one, with Saddam in hiding, the Americans on the march, and the museum's courtyard gates smashed open. Now the moment was upon him.

He must seize it.


Nejeeb Zayadi knew the fifth storeroom as well as he knew his own wife's body. Lovingly, he'd cared for the treasure secreted within it, just as his family had for generations. They were a family of caretakers.

Only a few outside of his brood knew what lay nestled here within the lockers. The slim storage bins looked innocuous enough—like the metal lockers outside any school gymnasium. But these compartments that he tended, checking daily to make certain they were secure, held wealth beyond measure. Coins, gold, silver—and the Eye.

Even the director of the museum knew nothing of the Eye's presence. She didn't even possess keys for all of the locks in this vast museum. It was he, Nejeeb, who had slipped the treasure deep inside the back set of lockers in 1966, transferring it from the old museum alongside the Tigris, where his father had preceded him in watching over it.

Nejeeb's father had been a child when the vigil began. He'd told Nejeeb many times about how he was awakened by the
voice of the stranger who had come to
father in the dead of night.

“Guard this until I return. I will make it well worth your trouble,” the stranger had said in a voice that sounded to the sleepy boy like the wind howling across the sand.

As Nejeeb's father had peeked through the crack in the door, he'd watched his father shivering in his nightshirt, staring down at something in his palm, looking stunned.

“What is this?” Nejeeb's grandfather had asked.

“Something dangerous in the wrong hands. I am entrusting you with it because your family name is an honored one, recorded among those who served in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. Your table will always have bread and your sons will always have honor if you keep this safe.”

Nejeeb's grandfather was dead now. Nejeeb's father was dead, too, and Nejeeb himself was an old man. Soon
eldest son would step into the role of caretaker.
For how long?
Nejeeb wondered. Year after year, the money still came, but the strange man had never returned.

Nejeeb hoped that in his lifetime he would learn the truth about that which he guarded. If he could keep it safe through tonight . . .

A sudden sound in the darkness made Nejeeb jump. Footsteps. The creak of a drawer opening.
One of the looters has made his way to the treasure rooms. Someone who knows to search for the keys.

BOOK: The Illumination
4.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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