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A Rizzoli & Isles Novel

Written by Tess GerritsenAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Tess Gerritsen


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: September 12, 2006
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-345-49530-3
Published by : Ballantine Books Ballantine Group

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Evil exists. Evil walks the streets. And evil has spawned a diabolical new disciple in this white-knuckle thriller from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

The Latin word is scrawled in blood at the scene of a young woman’s brutal murder: I HAVE SINNED. It’s a chilling Christmas greeting for Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, who swiftly link the victim to controversial celebrity psychiatrist Joyce O’Donnell–Jane’s professional nemesis and member of a sinister cabal called the Mephisto Club.

On top of Beacon Hill, the club’s acolytes devote themselves to the analysis of evil: Can it be explained by science? Does it have a physical presence? Do demons walk the earth? Drawing on a wealth of dark historical data and mysterious religious symbolism, the Mephisto scholars aim to prove a startling theory: that Satan himself exists among us.

With the grisly appearance of a corpse on their doorstep, it’s clear that someone–or something–is indeed prowling the city. The members of the club begin to fear the very subject of their study. Could this maniacal killer be one of their own–or have they inadvertently summoned an evil entity from the darkness?

Delving deep into the most baffling and unusual case of their careers, Maura and Jane embark on a terrifying journey to the very heart of evil, where they encounter a malevolent foe more dangerous than any they have ever faced . . . one whose work is only just beginning.


Chapter One

They looked like the perfect family.

This was what the boy thought as he stood beside his father’s open grave, as he listened to the hired minister read platitudes from the Bible. Only a small group had gathered on that warm and buggy June day to mourn the passing of Montague Saul, no more than a dozen people, many of whom the boy had just met. For the past six months, he had been away at boarding school, and today he was seeing some of these people for the very first time. Most of them did not interest him in the least.

But his uncle’s family—they interested him very much. They were worth studying.

Dr. Peter Saul looked very much like his dead brother Montague, slender and cerebral in owlish glasses, brown hair thinning toward inevitable baldness. His wife, Amy, had a round, sweet face, and she kept darting anxious looks at her fifteen-year-old nephew, as though aching to wrap her arms around him and smother him with a hug. Their son, Teddy, was ten years old, all skinny arms and legs. A little clone of Peter Saul, right down to the same owlish glasses.

Finally, there was the daughter, Lily. Sixteen years old.

Tendrils of her hair had come loose from the ponytail and now clung to her face in the heat. She looked uncomfortable in her black dress, and she kept shifting coltishly back and forth, as though preparing to bolt. As though she’d rather be anywhere than in this cemetery, waving away buzzing insects.

They look so normal, so average, the boy thought. So different from me. Then Lily’s gaze suddenly met his, and he felt a tremor of surprise. Of mutual recognition. In that instant, he could almost feel her gaze penetrating the darkest fissures of his brain, examining all the secret places that no one else had ever seen. That he’d never allowed them to see.

Disquieted, he looked away. Focused, instead, on the other people standing around the grave: His father’s housekeeper. The attorney. The two next-door neighbors. Mere acquaintances who were here out of a sense of propriety, not affection. They knew Montague Saul only as the quiet scholar who’d recently returned from Cyprus, who spent his days fussing over books and maps and little pieces of pottery. They did not really know the man. Just as they did not really know his son.

At last the service ended, and the gathering moved toward the boy, like an amoeba preparing to engulf him in sympathy, to tell him how sorry they were that he’d lost his father. And so soon after moving to the United States.

“At least you have family here to help you,” said the minister.

Family? Yes, I suppose these people are my family, the boy thought, as little Teddy shyly approached, urged forward by his mother.

“You’re going to be my brother now,” said Teddy.

“Am I?”

“Mom has your room all ready for you. It’s right next to mine.”

“But I’m staying here. In my father’s house.”

Bewildered, Teddy looked at his mother. “Isn’t he coming home with us?”

Amy Saul quickly said, “You really can’t live all by yourself, dear. You’re only fifteen. Maybe you’ll like it so much in Purity, you’ll want to stay with us.”

“My school’s in Connecticut.”

“Yes, but the school year’s over now. In September, if you want to return to your boarding school, of course you can. But for the summer, you’ll come home with us.”

“I won’t be alone here. My mother will come for me.”

There was a long silence. Amy and Peter looked at each other, and the boy could guess what they were thinking. His mother abandoned him ages ago.

“She is coming for me,” he insisted.

Uncle Peter said, gently, “We’ll talk about it later, son.”

In the night, the boy laid awake in his bed, in his father’s town house, listening to the voices of his aunt and uncle murmuring downstairs in the study. The same study where Montague Saul had labored these past months to translate his fragile little scraps of papyrus. The same study where, five days ago, he’d had a stroke and collapsed at his desk. Those people should not be in there, among his father’s precious things. They were invaders in his house.

“He’s still just a boy, Peter. He needs a family.”

“We can’t exactly drag him back to Purity if he doesn’t want to come with us.”

“When you’re only fifteen, you have no choice in the matter. Adults have to make the decisions.”

The boy rose from bed and slipped out of his room. He crept halfway down the stairs to listen in to the conversation.

“And really, how many adults has he known? Your brother didn’t exactly qualify. He was so wrapped up in his old mummy linens, he probably never noticed there was a child underfoot.”

“That’s not fair, Amy. My brother was a good man.”

“Good, but clueless. I can’t imagine what kind of woman would dream of having a child with him. And then she leaves the boy behind for Monty to raise? I don’t understand any woman who’d do that.”

“Monty didn’t do such a bad job raising him. The boy’s getting top marks in school.”

“That’s your measurement for what makes a good father? The fact that the boy gets top marks?”

“He’s also a poised young man. Look how well he held up at the service.”

“He’s numb, Peter. Did you see a single emotion on his face today?”

“Monty was like that, too.”

“Cold-blooded, you mean?”

“No, intellectual. Logical.”

“But underneath it all, you know that boy has got to be hurting. It makes me want to cry, how much he needs his mother right now. How he keeps insisting she’ll come back for him, when we know she won’t.”

“We don’t know that.”

“We’ve never even met the woman! Monty just writes us from Cairo one day, to tell us he has a brand-new son. For all we know, he plucked him up from the reeds, like baby Moses.”

The boy heard the floor creak above him, and he glanced toward the top of the stairs. He was startled to see his cousin Lily staring down at him over the banister. She was watching him, studying him, as if he were some exotic creature she’d never before encountered and she was trying to decide if he was dangerous.

“Oh!” said Aunt Amy. “You’re up!”

His aunt and uncle had just come out of the study, and they were standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at him. Looking a little dismayed, too, at the possibility that he had overheard their entire conversation.

“Are you feeling all right, dear?” said Amy.

“Yes, Auntie.”

“It’s so late. Maybe you should go back to bed now?”

But he didn’t move. He paused on the stairs for a moment, wondering what it would be like to live with these people. What he might learn from them. It would make the summer interesting, until his mother came for him.

He said, “Aunt Amy, I’ve made up my mind.”

“About what?”

“About my summer, and where I’d like to spend it.”

She instantly assumed the worst. “Please don’t be too hasty! We have a really nice house, right on the lake, and you’d have your own room. At least come for a visit before you decide.”

“But I’ve decided to come stay with you.”

His aunt paused, temporarily stunned. Then her face lit up in a smile, and she hurried up the steps to give him a hug. She smelled like Dove soap and Breck shampoo. So average, so ordinary. Then a grinning Uncle Peter gave him an affectionate clap on the shoulder, his way of welcoming a new son. Their happiness was like a web of spun sugar, drawing him into their universe, where all was love and light and laughter.

“The kids will be so glad you’re coming back with us!” said Amy.

He glanced toward the top of the stairs, but Lily was no longer there. She had slipped away, unnoticed. I will have to keep my eye on her, he thought. Because already, she’s keeping her eye on me.

“You’re part of our family now,” said Amy.

As they walked up the stairs together, she was already telling him her plans for the summer. All the places they’d take him, all the special meals they’d cook for him when they got back home. She sounded happy, even giddy, like a mother with her brand-new baby.

Amy Saul had no idea what they were about to bring home with them.
Tess Gerritsen|Author Q&A

About Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen - The Mephisto Club

Photo © Paul D'Innocenzo

Tess Gerritsen is a physician and an internationally bestselling author. She gained nationwide acclaim for her first novel of medical suspense, the New York Times bestseller Harvest. She is also the author of the bestsellers The Keepsake, The Bone Garden, The Mephisto Club, Vanish, Body Double, The Sinner, The Apprentice, The Surgeon, Life Support, Bloodstream, and Gravity. Tess Gerritsen lives in Maine.

Author Q&A


In The Mephisto Club you’ll find numerous references to both Biblical and pre-Christian lore. This guide will help you understand the real history that inspired the book.

What is the significance of the word, “Mephisto”?
Mephisto (also known as Mephistopheles) is a demon whose name first appears in literature in the 1500’s, in reference to the German legend of Dr. Faust. Faust is thought to have been a real person, a scholar and theologian who began to dabble in the occult in search of divine knowledge. According to the legend, Faust used magical symbols to conjure up an evil spirit known as Mephistopheles. (The name is perhaps drawn from a Greek translation for “not a lover of light”.) Mephistopheles claims to be a servant of the Devil, and he offers a deal: he will faithfully do Faust’s bidding for the next 24 years, after which Faust will surrender his soul to Satan. Faust agrees, and for 24 years, with the demon’s help, he lives a debauched life of whoring and drunkenness.

But when his 24 years is almost up, Faust has a sudden change of heart. Horrified by the idea of spending eternity in Hell, he tries desperately to break the agreement with Satan by repenting of his sins. But it is too late. At midnight, Faust is heard shrieking in terror as Satan comes to claim his soul. All that is left behind is Faust’s horribly mutilated body.

Among 16th century Lutherans, the original legend of Faust was a cautionary tale that illustrated the dangers of performing magic and seeking divine knowledge. But the story’s basic theme — the perils of forging a pact with the Devil — has been used many times since then, in literature and music. (E.g.: Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, Geothe’s Faust, and the opera Faust by Charles Gounod.)

Over the centuries, the name has morphed into an alternative name for Satan. But in his original incarnation, Mephisto was known merely as the Devil’s servant, a fallen angel who joined Lucifer in his original rebellion against God.

Are the evil creatures, the Nephilim, actually mentioned in the Bible?
Yes, although the most common translations refer to them not by their original Hebrew name Nephilim (the fallen), but as, simply, “giants.”

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in until the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:4-5, King James)

There are other references to “giants” in the Bible, including the following description of the Anakim, who lived around Hebron. Though it’s not entirely clear that the giants mentioned below are the Nephilim, the phrase “which come of the giants” is a tantalizing clue that these are among the descendants of the original Nephilim:

The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers. (Numbers 13:32-33)

Do Nephilim appear in other ancient texts?
Yes. They appear in the Book of Enoch, a non-canonical text written sometime around the second century BCE. Only fragments of the Book of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947. But the complete text managed to survive hidden away for two millenia in Ethiopia, where they were discovered in the 1700’s by a Scotsman.

Within the Book of Enoch are numerous references to Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels (Watchers) who mated with human women. They are described as:

…great giants, whose height was three thousand ells, who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. (Book of Enoch, VII:2-4)

The Nephilim are described as unremittingly evil beings:

And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth. (Book of Enoch, XV:11)

Nephilim also appear in another ancient Jewish text, the Book of Jubilees, written around 100 BCE. Here we learn that most Nephilim were wiped out by God during the age of Noah. But God did not kill them all.

And He said: Let the tenth part of them remain before him, and let nine parts descend into the place of condemnation… And a tenth part of them we left that they might be subject before Satan on the earth. (Book of Jubilees X:9-12)

So Nephilim continue to live alongside mankind. And as subjects of Satan, they will continue to torment mankind by starting wars and committing violence.

What is the real-world basis for legends of such strange beings?
Legends of powerful (and often evil) creatures who are descended from fallen gods are not uncommon. In Sumerian myth, the Anunnaki were sky gods who fell to earth, and have been interfering in mankind’s business ever since. In ancient Greek mythology, the gods of Mount Olympus who mated with humans produced half-breeds such as the tragic Hercules. Some modern conspiracy theorists believe that the Nephilim are, in fact, alien creatures from space who have interbred with humans over millennia to produce an exalted bloodline of kings and leaders. Among modern-day believers in a coming apocalypse, many think that the Anti-Christ himself will in fact be one of these powerful world leaders — as well as one of the Nephilim.

Then there’s the Biblical description of these beings as “giants.” Could the ancient texts be describing an actual primate species that lived at the same time as humans? Cryptozoologists (people who study creatures whose existence has not been substantiated) have long theorized that Bigfoot could actually be the last surviving tribe of Gigantopithecus — a giant ape that has lingered into the modern age.

Did Adam really have a first wife named Lilith?

Lilith’s role as Adam’s wife does not enter historical documents until fairly recently, in a medieval Jewish text (The Alphabet of Ben-Sira). But the character of Lilith herself seems to date back much earlier, to ancient Jewish and Mesopotamian folklore in which she appears as a night demon. In these earlier myths, Lilith is said to be a dangerous being who hunts for newborn babies. As later described in the Dead Sea Scrolls, she is said to be one of the dwellers in the desert, living among evil spirits and fallen angels. In even later incarnations, she is transformed into an overtly seductive character with long flowing hair and a seemingly insatiable sex drive. She forces sleeping men to have intercourse with her, and at night, in her wanderings, she causes men to “defile themselves”. As a result of her uninhibited matings with various desert creatures, she becomes the mother of a whole host of evil creatures.

Today, feminists could well point to Lilith as an example of how male-written history treats a sexually emancipated woman: she becomes known as a demon!

Does a Mephisto Club really exist?
According to author Andrew Collins, the author of From the Ashes of Angels:

In the United States there is an organization known as the Sons of Jared, who take their name from the patriarch Jared, the father of Enoch… In their manifesto, the Sons of Jared vow ‘implacable war against the descendants of the Watchers’, who, they allege, ‘as notorious Pharaohs, Kings, and Dictators, have throughout history dominated mankind’.

The existence of the Sons of Jared is difficult to confirm, since it is said to be a secret society. But rumors about it are widespread across the internet.



Praise for Vanish

“Action-packed, entertaining, and compulsively readable.”
–Chicago Sun-Times

“A powerful story that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.”
–Orlando Sentinel

“A tense, taut thriller that grabs readers from the get-go and never lets up.”

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